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Staying at work? Returning to work?

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 27, 2018 9:51 pm

Thanks Brighty‍ , I feel really stupid for taking so long to decide.  I should have just gone with my feelings and said "retire"  I hope my Union rep can help me.  Thanks again for your support

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Brighty on Aug 27, 2018 10:56 pm

scaredysquirrel‍ you're not stupid, it's a HUGE decision.   I know both my folx struggled with that too.    My dad was into his 70's before he retired, and now he just plays on the computer all day.  My mom was close to 70 as well when she retired.   She worked 18 to 20 hour days and that's a huge change from that to having no structure.    She was used to getting up at 5 a.m. and working some days till 10 pm. and then coming home and doing MORE work!    Doing that for 43 years, then retiring, it's like, what do I do now???    You have to find a purpose or some sort of routine when you retire so you have something to look forward to.      My folx also spend a few days a week looking after my brother's dog, Brighty.    It saves my brother the dog walking fees a few days a week and they love the dog.     other than that, they travel sometimes on the oldies trips and just do whatever they feel like it.   It's a much more relaxing lifestyle than what they were used to for so many years!!! But they got adjusted.  It's a big adjustment.   

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Aug 28, 2018 11:18 am

scaredysquirrel‍ . Decision made! Well done. I’ll bet you’re feeling better already. Oops, just read a couple more of your posts... perhaps not.

Heavy sigh on your behalf!

Perhaps this thought will help: Now you are in a position of great power. 

Human Resources hoops just got too high to jump through? I can tell ‘em to stuff it.
Commuting gotcha down? I can pack it in.
My old supervisor having more fun in retirement that I am? Let’s go for a drink and a long chat! At 10 a.m.!
Back loving my old job? I can stay as long as I want.


Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Dielle on Aug 28, 2018 12:08 pm

scaredysquirrel‍   I think Cynthia Mac‍ is so right.  You are in control here and you can do whatever you want to do.  You are not obligated to go back to work but if you decide to give it a try they do have certain obligations to you.  

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 28, 2018 2:09 pm

Dielle‍ , I appreciate your support and kind thoughts.  It's up to me, how this goes....

Cynthia Mac‍  you seem to be able to really put my thoughts in a "nut shell" no pun intended.  I like your suggestions.  I haven't been able to speak with my Union Rep yet, she just got back from vacation so is likely busy.  I'm hoping to have a discussion with her soon.  Will keep you posted.  Love your comments.  Cheers

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Aug 30, 2018 8:37 pm

Now that the wheels are in motion for my return to work, even if it ends up being brief, I'm nervous!  I've not been on my job for over a year.  I hope it all comes back to me.  

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Jan 13, 2019 11:41 pm

OH man, I wish I'd read this over and over.  I was so confused trying to return to work and having the retirement word tempting me all along.  What a mistake.  I'm so sorry that I started down this path.  I wish I could go back to September and return to work.  

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Feb 7, 2019 12:47 am

lochatter‍ congratulations on your successful return to work.  I almost made it back to work, unfortunately all the catastrophising thoughts about my return started to go through my thoughts and I made a rash decision to retire.  Now I wish I had given the gradual return to work a chance.  I was also worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up with the stress and work load at times.  I'm sure now that I could have handled it especially on a low key schedule.  I would have gone back around last Sept. 17.  I don't know why I chose retirement, because I was clearly not ready for it.  It's been a real shock and adjustment to my life.  I'm board already.  I have a volunteer job at the hospital in the gift shop.  It's pretty low key. I've only done 2 training shifts so far.  It does fill the void somewhat but not like my job.  I would have liked one more year at my job before retiring.  Oh well, I have to try and move on but it's been a struggle.  I still think a lot about my job and wonder how it would have gone had I returned.  I know my workmates would have been supportive and happy to have me back.  I'm also ice skating a couple of times a week.  It helps break up the monotony.  I'm planning to reapply at Douglas College for the bookstore on call position for the fall term.  I hope to be reconsidered and this time should be in good health.  I wish I'd read your posting before making my rash decision.  Oh well, we all make mistakes.  Glad it worked out for you.

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by scaredysquirrel on Feb 19, 2019 2:09 am

I wish I would have read this thoroughly before making my decision to retire.  I think my biggest concern was losing my confidence and not being able to handle my commute.  I know I would have gotten used to it after a few trips.  Now I can look back and see what I needed to do.  Hindsight is always 20/20.  I really did need to return to my job, I'm not enjoying being retired.  I wake up everyday thinking about going to work and wishing I was there.  I'm trying to make the best of it, but it's really difficult.  Going back to work would have helped me find myself again after cancer.  I can't believe I didn't go back to work at least for the 6 weeks rehab through Manulife.  I'm always going to feel like I made a huge mistake.  Nice to read so many positive experiences though.

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Essjay on Apr 12, 2019 9:08 pm

After 4 months off for chemo, I am trialling a gentle return to work. Today was day 1, 4 hours. It was busy - I had a couple of meetings, colleagues dropped by to visit, I had to reset expired passwords, I lunched with colleagues and that was all. Very tired now.

im going to try 3-4 hours 3 days a week, it’s a trial, it doesn’t affect my sick status, and if I can’t maintain working through radiation that’s ok...


Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by ashcon on Apr 12, 2019 9:38 pm

Bravo!  Good for you! "Lunch with Colleagues" sounds like the best part of this day!     Keep us posted on how the other days go, and what tips you have found that helped you pace yourself!!!

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Raven on Apr 13, 2019 8:28 am

I am going back to work...for a while...
I was diagnosed with early uterine cancer in July 2018, had a total hysterectomy in October. I had accumulated a lot of sick days and was able to take 3 months off. This was great. It gave me time to reflect, absorb, think about my future, slow down my life...I went back mid January 2019 but only for 3 days a week. That was also perfect. A little good stress and a lot of relaxation, a perfect balance. Next week I have my first recheck, then, if everything is good, I intend to work 3 days at the office, one day at home, per week until March 2021, at which time I will retire completely. This way I have plenty of time to get used to the idea, pass on my knowledge to the people who will replace me, and be psychologically ready...

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Minus2 on Apr 13, 2019 9:02 am

Happy Return to Work Essjay‍!  With my first surgery I went back full time and was quickly overwhelmed and exhausted.  The second surgery, it was a gradual return to work and things went so much better.  Your plan sounds perfect and as ashcon‍ said, lunch with colleagues would be the best part of the day.  It's like being in school - recess is always the favourite subject!

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by irishchick on Apr 13, 2019 2:34 pm

Fabulous! You are rocking the look! I haven't lost my eyebrows or eyelashes yet, so far have done 1/4 of my radiation this week. Next week while up to the city for another week of rads, I am taking in the Look good feel better session, so looking forward to that. I'm not a makeup person anyways so it'll be interesting to see what I learn!
i never went looking for another job when my last one ended at the time I was having completed hysterectomy due to soccer ball size fibroids. My husband is waiting for me to be done my treatments and he's aiming to retire Aug/Sept.
Enjoy your time back to work on a plan that works for you.


Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by ashcon on Apr 14, 2019 8:28 am


No one wants cancer as the motivator to reflect, slow down, and think about one's life, but it sounds like you were fortunate enough to get that benefit out of this experience and then map that into your retirement plan! 

I am quite convinced that if cancer had not forced me to slow down and re-evaluate my life's priorities, I'd still be clocking 12hr workdays. 

What retirement plans do you have? Travel? Hobbies? 

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by ACH2015 on Apr 14, 2019 9:06 am

Essjay‍ and Raven‍ I wish you both well in your return to work plans,

Minus2‍ its good to hear your 2nd return to work has worked out well.

I will be officially retired this Wednesday April 17th. I have been dealing with cancer since June 2016, so just shy of 3 years.

I wanted to return to work in September of 2017. Then, in October of 2017 I suffered a recurrence. So after going through that and many more interventions and continued side effects, this past December I put in my retirement papers.

The way I dealt with it and still am is that this is my "best case scenario". I weighed all the pros and cons and here I am.

So good on all of you for choosing to return to work. I congratulate you for your fortitude, determination, desire and ability to do so. And again, I wish you all success and continued health.

Like ashcon‍ said  so well " I am quite convinced that if cancer had not forced me to slow down and re-evaluate my life's priorities, I'd still be clocking 12hr workdays".. 

For those of you on the fence, unsure and deciding what to do: Weigh the pros and cons, and most importantly look at your abilities and be honest with yourself and the employer with what those are.

We have all been through treatments that can and have changed our lives forever. Many of us feel a responsibility to return to work, and that's fine (I was one of them) but please consider your health and abilities in these decisions. Like you have all described, gradual and modified duties is the best way to go with an employer willing to accept those needs, and your advocating for yourself at the same time.

Good luck, good health and glad to hear of your success!

Keep well

ACH2015 - Andy.

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Cynthia Mac on Apr 14, 2019 9:38 am

Raven‍ , It sounds as though you’ve got an ideal plan!

Essjay‍ - I’m glad you’re able to go back on part days.

ashcon‍ , I, too liked your comment about if it hadn’t been for your cancer diagnosis and treatment you might still be working 12 hour days. I’m glad you’ve found your balance in that regard. It reminds me of that old saying, “Nobody lying on their deathbed has ever said, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office.’”

And, Andy, ACH2015‍ , welcome to the club!

There are so many factors in returning to work after an illness, whether it’s due to cancer or another condition. It isn’t always just about how the individual feels and what their capabilities are, there are variables on the employer’s side, as well - insurance companies, differences in sick benefits, the physical demands of the job, and even the political and stress-related demands. It’s so great when all the factors come together. It’s also great when both sides can be understanding and flexible to change when all the factors don’t come together.

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Joanniem on Apr 14, 2019 4:57 pm

 I am looking forward to going back to work. I only really have to work 2 days per week. It really supplements my income and it gives me some pride and satisfaction that I have done something. My oncologist said the other day when I mentioned it that I wasn't going back to work. I think he meant very soon, but I am a little disappointed with the tone. I meant when my treatment was over, and not immediately . Anyway he was in a hurry and I will discuss it with him at a later date. I feel though, that if people want to work, they should , and if they want to retire, then they should do that.  Having cancer has made me more aware of what I actually want and dont want.  I dont feel that anyone should have the power to take it away. I doubt that anyone who has been through this kind of thing would do anything to seriously impede their well being, so others should give them credit for thinking it through. I am now aware of how precious life really is and I still want to work a couple of days per week.

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Kims1961 on Apr 14, 2019 10:18 pm

It is with great interest I am following this thread.

When first diagnosed with cancer - my drive was to return to work asap.  Now, I realize it was because I wanted everything to be back to "normal".  Like - working meant I didn't have cancer anymore.  Treatment changed my viewpoint and then with the side effects, I'm in no hurry to return until I feel well enough.

I'm in a tricky spot - I'm 57 - so only have 3 yrs until I was aiming to retire.  I've been off on LTD - 2 years will be this Sept. and am starting to get the "calls" from Desjardins,  about what a back to work plan would look like.  I know from a LTD point of view - they want me back by at least the 2 yr mark.  So - I'm thinking I will try a slow return to work - or may even look at working reduced days until I retire.  Essjay‍  - thank you for your post - it has me thinking I should discuss what options there are for me to return without jeopardizing my leave - just in case I have trouble with returning to work....so much to consider!!

Great thread - thanks all.  Kim

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Minus2 on Apr 15, 2019 6:41 am

Congratulations ACH2015‍ !  I am more than a little jealous - we are about 3 years out from our retirement date but I am looking at ways to make it happen sooner rather than later.  The golf course is calling me and I really want to answer.

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by WesT on Apr 15, 2019 9:46 am

ACH2015‍ Andy, congrats!  Still two days left so no champagne just yet!

Similar to Kims1961‍ my focus was get back to work as quickly as possible.  I returned on a limited schedule a week before the doctor recommended.  I regretted that! My time off made me reflect on a number of things and I quickly realized I no longer had the passion for my job I once had.  Everyone said you must have been bored stiff when you were off.  The exact opposite was the case.

Of course I work in a government funded institution and shortly after returning to work a new government was elected and that government is NOT friendly towards the industry I am in, making me really wish I was eligible for full retirement.  I would have taken it if I was.....

Cancer makes you reevaluate the things that are important and a job is important but it is not your entire life (or shouldn't be....).

Re: Staying at work? Returning to work?

Posted by Lacey_adminCCS on Apr 15, 2019 10:55 am

Hey ALL!

Just wanted to say there are some great resources on the cancerandwork.ca website to check out including:
Returning to Work/Staying at Work

Return to work steps:

  1. Understand your current abilities about your work
  2. Understand your challenges in returning to work
  3. Communicate with your healthcare team
  4. Consider strategies to improve your abilities, enhance your wellbeing, and meet workplace challenges
  5. Identify supports that will enable you to work
  6. Develop a formal return to work plan
  7. Prepare for the first days, weeks, months back at work
  8. Monitor your progress
  9. Manage expectations at your workplace

Let me know what you think!