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Chemo experience - Was anyone able to still work ?

Hi - (from Quebec ) recently found out my stage was not 1 like they had given me to believe was likely but Stage 3C 1 (saw a dr form given to my insurance and my heart sank) . I have to have 6 treatments of chemo ( once every 3 weeks ) then radiation 6 weeks . Anyone successfully able to work while having chemo that wanted to ? I was told during radiation it is not likely but chemo people do with a day off here and there.

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1629 Posts

@Thesearetheirstories welcome to the community but I am sorry you find yourself here. I’m sorry your staging changed but that can happen following tests and/or surgery. I had both breast and ovarian cancer in early 2019. I had just retired when I was diagnosed so work wasn’t a concern for me. I will say for me, while I was on chemo I could not have worked. Radiation I might have been able to work. I am tagging @Runner Girl and @Essjay to share their experiences with you.

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Hi @Thesearetheirstories - welcome to Cancer Connections. You'll find many people are able to work and choose to do so during their chemo treatments, each situation differs but yes people can and do work. Which one are you on? My husband was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer and continued to work for 18 months during his chemo sessions until he choose to retire. He was fortunate to have a flexible job that allowed him to alter his hours if/when needed so if his energy level was down or when he had appointments he could adjust his schedule. Good luck with your treatments!


Runner Girl
2799 Posts

Hello @Thesearetheirstories Thanks for the tag @JustJan

I worked and ran throughout my treatment. I had 6 rounds of chemo and 21 rounds of radiation.

I missed one day of work due to side effects when my inner ear was being affected and my balance was gone.

I was a long distance runner but my oncologist told me I could only run 10 km at a time during my chemo/herceptin treatments as they can affect the heart and he didn't want me working it too hard.

I had a deal with the folks in the office. If anyone was sick they had to stay home. If they were sick but absolutely had to come in then I would stay home. This was before covid.

I was forbidden from taking transit during chemo so had to drive to/from work.

1995 Posts

@Thesearetheirstories welcome…

I didn’t work through chemo on the advice of my oncologist. i was on a dose dense regime which was tough on me, and she told me that my job was to stay well and to stay on track with treatment.
I believe it was the right decision. I’m a senior manager where I work and I would have struggled with decision making and likely would have made mistakes if I’d worked. The chemo brain and the fatigue made concentrating on anything challenging. I found I couldn’t remember things and lost track of conversations…

Staying home I was able to get plenty of rest. I walked every day, I made it to the gym sometimes, did yoga, kept up with family and friends online, by phone/video chat and met friends for coffee now and again, I read a lot, watched TV, listened to audio books and podcasts etc.

I went back part time during radiation, and then started a gradual return getting back to fulltime work within 3 months. However, it took me a full year to feel like I was back to top form again. Exercise was definitely my friend in recovery…

@RBION I am meeting with my surgeon in person Monday and will let me know I guess which cocktail I am getting ( she said I would lose my hair if that's an indicator ) . They did not mean to have me find out on my own on an insurance form ( hard drop from 1 - 3 stage I was on Dr internet quick ) so called me when I left a message upset. It is encouraging sharing have been able to work during chemo at least some of the time . I can not wrap my brain around chemo and radiation - all respect to those doing it and going thru it .

109 Posts

@Thesearetheirstories what a crappy way to find out about the staging of your cancer. Were you able to get confirmation and a better understanding of what Stage 3 means for you when you spoke to them? It's not the news you wanted or expected to hear but try not to let it drag you down too much if possible - it'll take time to process what having cancer means to you and your loved ones…neither my husband nor I realized quite what we were going through mentally until a few months after the first doctor's appointment. Only then were we able to look back and see the many emotions and thoughts we were dealing with. ….And thinking about things I've read and heard, there are a lot of stories where doctor's have forgotten the human aspect of informing patients of their diagnosis. Some stories much worse than others.

Good luck with Monday's appointment - consider writing down any questions you might have before then so you don't have to rely on your memory.

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Hi: I had serous endometrial cancer, Stage 4 and was 67 in 2017. After round 3, I didn't have much stamina to do anything, but I did go for a 20-30 minute walk every day that I could. Each person's journey is quite different so you may be able to work for awhile. I would ask your employer if you could work from home part of the time if that is an option. The second day after chemo I felt the worst. My odds were low for survival, but here I am 4.5 years later. I started meditating to calm my mind and it was very helpful to stop going to those dark places. If you can do some kind of exercise that you like during treatment, it is most helpful. I hope your treatment goes well. Joan

@Jlo Thank for the information . Happy you are surviving and pray you continue to . My employer is very open to whatever ." We will adapt" my boss said. I do work from home since the Pandemic as does the whole department. Thanks for sharing I know it is accumulative and will watch out for after round 3 my stamina . Tryin not to be too vain and know it is not the most important but fear also abit how I will look if I am like a charity brochure to get funds sigh

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