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ISO Support for Survivors Returning to the World and Work

Hello Everyone.

I would really like to find a support group or service for returning to normal life after treatment. I will hit 3-years cancer-free in a week. I don't think I can jump back into everything. I need to plan and make goals and I want to find like-minded and experienced folks who might also be having similar challenges. Does anyone know of any programs? I wonder if ‘return to work’ programs are out there. I have been working in a limited capacity but I need to increase my income now and I would love some encouraging contemporaries.

Much Love to all!

14 Replies
S2020
1551 Posts

@2ndTimeAround

Welcome!

Here is an online Returning To Work Program at Wellspring:

https://wellspring.ca/online-programs/programs/all-programs/returning-to-work

The next program starts on January 12.

I have participated in many of their programs and highly recommend them, although I do not have firsthand experience with this one.

Transitioning through various stages of wellness and the different processes can all present unique challenges. Good luck with everything.

Sadie12
298 Posts

@S2020 - Yes!

@2ndTimeAround - I did take this course before returning to work after 20 months. It is amazing and just hearing your thoughts/fears echoed in other survivor's voices is amazing.

I do believe that Wellspring also has career counselling or something like that.

Check out all their offerings at wellspring.ca

I will mention that my disability insurance provider paid for an OT for 8 weeks prior to me going back to work…it was similar to life coaching, etc. Making a plan for each week for exercise and other self-care, plus fitting in the stuff of life, like grocery shopping, etc. It seemed a little excessive to me at the time, but looking back, she was helping me pump myself back up to trying to be organized and focused on priorities before I added work back into the mix. It's such an uphill climb getting past the cancer climb and trying to get your head back into everyday life. I take it that you don't have an LTD provider at this date, but just wondering if there is another avenue.

Also - Congratulations on 3 years cancer free!

Sadie12

elle29
1496 Posts

Lots of return to work : offered in your community , hospital Social Worker should know Wellspring , Inspire , and perhaps even your Physician .
Shortage of staff everywhere right across the country . Or set your self up with a temp . Employment Agency depends what pay level you did where u go for this support level .Some have protected work contracts of flexibility with HR to return . I just recalled was modified in the Education field to adjust to returning to work from being ill.

elle29
1496 Posts

@2ndTimeAround @Sadie12 No kidding when you said it’s a climb 🧗 even 3 years after . I am coming up to what is called a Cancerversary where you live to beyond past your prognosis date ! Which is an unrealistic term that some Oncologists agree they have to speak of and tell their patients being grave pessimistic to diagnosis and could be untrue , inaccurate , we shared here on CC . But so real and true to those who have lost more than 3 family members to cancer or advanced agressive cancers or found in late stage of spread only living a few months many of us either hear of or know being on this site CC .

It’s only very soon , in 2 days my first year after, Mets BC cancer and I feel I accomplished nothing , but get my meds reduced bantering with my GPO ! On a functional level at home , the last 3 months just able doing groceries myself is a tiring task , then come home to cook it clean up , I just forgo , often left . And lots laundry , not returned to those other interests or activities before cancer .
And I can’t help feeling my type of cancer as before grows slow …..turtle 🐢 slow . Yet the Oncologist is there , I am grateful for with his experience and measures of detection .
Pandemic : It w@s more heavy for some of us , right inthe thick of it with cancer , with the addition of the pandemic COVID virus 🦠. If u recall a phenominal and surreal time of losses to life ! Medical pple having to make decisions, who lives or dies ! Impacting deaths of fear globally . And cancer holds these same uncertainties that some physicians are very aware to not mislead .

So with or with out cancer disease I do not have to expect a lot from myself, Ie letting go of domestic chores , doing all the grass , yard and property so it can wait etc etc . having already decided and planned my retirement . Seems petty and worthless, compared to getting over cancer . I Did those labourons tastes enjoyably in activity before cancer as a worthwhile form of fitness ! Only basic selfcare for my needs such making my meals ( or not eating but fasting bc of meds side effects in causes ) to keep my strength . The only thing I regret is losing my cleaning lady . So I hired a lawn mowing company insteaD . Cancer is not only a disease but it’s a nuisance bc you have rearrange your way of living in adjustments and commitments of a whole person ! And finances , funding and budgets for some long term .

For instance for myself still asking for help for repairs around the house requiring demands in physical labour, but demands in finances in handling bookkeeping . I do not trust in myself now after cancer . Despite which I feel , this not good for my fitness aspect being on my own now . I am more inclined to go sit on the couch fall asleep .

Or have to consider again to hire someone .Very few are blessed enough to hire a nurse at home or doctor unless , the end stage . Certainly not for recovery or healing stage .
I was in the midst of doing with contractors hired for my home of 3 different home projects of improvement planned as before cancer . Learning new things such as better ways of figuring doing things as building projects outside decisions seem harder . Or I just do not have that spirit of eagerness , overcoming how to do things better . So I look for feedback running my home , as when retired before cancer to be kept simply and smaller . I do not need complicated !

I have to think of other ways , or let it go and expecting less of myself or perfection . My performance is not at the level I expect of my self. Either it wanes or dies out . Disappointed or depressed : It does not regenerate as easily to bounce back . No matter what I tried . Like yoga I joined the first time in a gentle class . I ended up in long term pain since to overcome . But that will not stop me from perhaps approaching to use the pool . Adding electrolytes to drink or Protien energy shakes to get that pep !

It seems to take me more time or I cannot find a solution as easily using my creative reasoning . It takes so long and I just do not get it back it seems . But that light bulb 💡, that make sense ! In brain or body I feel” I am lacking to make up for someway . Wondering if it is compounded by other matters as degenerative age or health such as disabetes . Oh well ?
… I even lose the recall of words ! So what I learned positively is to replace those gaps Ie memory replacement activities or shows on tv . A dictionary of words , sent to my email . AND My own GP advised wearing weights to combat onset of Osteoporosis side effect of the meds . And some exercise machine inside, my home to get . I am unsure of which one .
I have learned anyways being single a woman , I do not have to do it all as I was conditioned with my family parents . Not try to do it all . Especially not being critical hard on myself . Or what others think of me ! To please them in harmony ! But limiting an activity to some , like only one load of heavy work like laundry . Or going outside to clear the yard in one area . Or just listening then talking .
Or finding a better way technology has allowed us . Such as to have the pet food delivered or maybe even the groceries .

Terminology I knew before , to even to carry on be part of a conversation does not happen as fluid befor cancer . There for I feel very reluctant to be on zoom with cancer to focus just on the cancer needs required of me . And after cancer for that reason being judged for my appearance or lack going blank or judged in age .


When I had cancer it’s like tunnel vision . You want to get through it , you wan to go back to the normal pre cancer person you were . Is your identy lost or changed . I was only acutely focused on that process as it happened , the outcome and the hope of overcoming it long term consulting my Oncologist what treatment targeted it systemically .

Extended or nuclear family : . .. I did not even want to tell my mother who has been the matriarch of my family a professional accomplished woman of her time overcoming being visually exceptionally challenged and started founded a business , to have gotten her credentials , degrees . Nor burden her more becoming widowed and consulting to stay in her home but having to be forced to go into a cultural facility of care .Which actually gave relief to those few of us help her to be accepting of help given in the demands she needed being blind but very capable individual .
Nor were my many attempts with cancer or after confident enough to do regular physical labour either . I am still falling and dealing with symptoms of side effects on the meds as loss of endurance in energy .

I now go to sleep earlier , otherwise I am more dragged out tired as I will be tomorrow being online here . Such as being on line to respond …. However I am a friend here and keep in touch as those who are left or in that disconnect zone . Thinking one in particular was prepared putting matter in legal perspective , carring on in all treatment available with extended medical care plan . At a newer cancer facility but accepting losing stronghold in her treatments to conquer her cancer . The same time I was told of my prognosis having one treatment , diagnosis similar to hers as other things in common once living there .
So as I celebrated each stage with my daughters going to the spa or a resort . Also I did manage to help my daughter , happily newly married with husband buy her first 3 yr young house . To continue to , advise and guide this process to be an honest business transaction . And quickly making it into a home , with furnishings from our family . To consult a lawyer to protect my family assets and be the financer , become joint owner ( reluctantly ) . While prechristmas to hire contractors and since been helping them to put in a kitchenette / wet bar , for their professional mother in law to live there . With her son also starting a business this Jan . . A recent MA professional grad . For which I am contributing 3 large pieces of banner art I still have to get doing freeing up my studio space , back . It seems for myself having someone alongside makes a difference more now after having cancer . Something I have been missing from those supports I had before accepted by the community I lived in making a difference and friends . I found those kind caring friendly shoes to fill does not exist here except when I had cancer by my wonderful daughters .

But I noticed around others , keeping Christmas with family , my motivation seemed to lift and return . So I think if I can find a group again along my creative interests in art and thpe of exercise activity . As I had before here , that would solidify my commitment when feeling tired, to, drag myself out dissipate quickly just depleted by the weeks end That said I had to , make clear boundaries to give myself a complete day off and tell others as family .,please allow mum to have her Saturdays .
I got myself through the cancer with just the very professional support of the wonderful Oncologist and many here on CC . By day and night reading ,online , researching to know more and to be able to converse factually with the doctor .
In fact many of us here found we were either equal to talk with the Oncologists or giving them updated findings or asking more progressive treatments by sharing conversing in cancer learning the terminology especially as most programs had shut down ,or were overwhelmed , even turning pple away here to be treated during the pandemic beginnings . Slowly that is all reverting back .
I just do not have enough of that support . While being single there is lots to take care of before but now in my after cancer stage ,sticking to that in self discipline I had stronger before cancer .
It’s all another focus of mindfulness 🧘🏼‍♀️ to add to our daily functions we have to do when single or coupled or with family at home and experiencing side effects new to live with sometimes a burden to the ongoing medication to stop 🛑 inhibit cancers‘ growth . And the treatment while it is working causes lower blood cell levels with monthly labs to keep monitored with side effects, I sometimes have adjusted , to , but not as toxic .Telling my oncologist to feeling normal .
It just bothers me that this is for the rest of my life ,and not a 3 yrs term like others here . Oh but at least I live , celebrating that ! With some long term dreams , being realized to be part of is the bonus after cancer becomes NED or clinical remission we all hope for the best and close to a cure . GN Elle29

elle29
1496 Posts
Sadie12
298 Posts

@elle29 I now realized that @2ndTimeAround mentions goals, as you have! I remember struggling to get my footing back to pre-cancer life…(which ends up being post-cancer life, as you are forever changed)…putting pressure on myself to make goals, as I've always been a person to live towards goals. But then, I was acutely aware that having a 10 yr goal or 5 yr goal might be tempting fate! And my support worker suggested to make ‘intentions’, not goals. So, I made ‘intentions’, but coming up on 2 years of NED…I've made at least one 5 year goal, so my mindset has changed.

I do remember, @2ndTimeAround, thinking that I was so exhausted and scatter-brained (not finding the words to finish my sentence, etc.) that I didn't know how I would cope returning to work. I did a gradual return…and it didn't take long before my body\mind returned to working capacity. I might be more focussed and easy going now…because I know my work isn't as important as it once was in my life.

Sadie12

Cyf
65 Posts

@2ndTimeAround other members on here mentioned Wellspring. I just did their back to work program and found it helpful. I just thought I'd mention that you do need to register and it does end up full so you will want to get registered soon. Best of luck!

Essjay
2153 Posts

@2ndTimeAround check out www.afreshchapter.com

They run programs for those living with cancer or having come out of treatment. They open reservations for their Ignite program (online cohort groups) on January 17th…

Cynthia Mac
4217 Posts
Acronym lesson time:

ISO = In Search Of
Iirc = If I Recall Correctly
btw = by the way
afaic = As Far as I’m Concerned
IM(H)O = In My (Honest) Opinion

That’s enough for today! Tagging elle29‍ - who asked the question.

@2ndTimeAround

I'm so glad you posted this is such a great topic.

This is a great resource:Cancer and Work | Cancer and Work

@elle29 “In Search Of”

@elle29 so my story is relatively unique and this was my second cancer experience and unrelated to the first.

It can see that there are many unfilled jobs out there. I really have to enter back into my career/work and I am lacking confidence. My job requires a LOT of confidence. Also, I couldn't just ‘get a job’ because I don't think I am capable of performing through an entire shift.

My resume is completely tuned to the career I was doing full-time in 2019 and for the 20 years prior. I don't think I really qualify for anything else. I am also not willing to go to an entry-level position as that would likely require more physicality and endurance than I can muster. I am still taking naps and have a hard time getting up in the morning. I worked part-time in my career from 2019-now but not making enough to survive without using my savings.

Performance/income in my line of work is entirely driven by motivation and confidence. It took me about 8 years to completely recover (like that's even possible) from my first experience with cancer. It feels that it might be easier this time around, given I know what to expect, but I am not convinced that I am ready. The problem is that I have finally run out of my savings. I had no financial support from a partner, insurance, social services, etc.

This is why I need the program.

@Cyf I signed up for the return to work course.

I am a bit in disbelief that the content will apply to me.

I am not saying I am one in a million but my job is not a basic job.

I am going to be open-minded but that's all I have right now.

elle29
1496 Posts

@Sadie12
Oh thank you kindly for that tip ‘ intentions ‘ rather then goals bc I am retired mode to enjoy my interests here . With still an elder mother my family helps me care for POA long distance not flying out seeing I had planned .
I am in a slump this eve waiting 6 hours , bc the GPO at out local cancer clinic made an appointment today at 1:40 pm ! Not keeping it nor calling and pre planned from Dec 22 to have today. But instead booking with me for Jan 5 th 2023 provided I take my 2 meds prescribed. Saying that He would address my symptoms !

UGh my daughter came over too giving up her day to drive me if needed !
He did not keep my appointment and now I feel insignificant after being bullied to keep taking these meds as part of being told by him this is the protocol. That I am not to decide my self to not take the meds but rather let th doctors make the decisions if I am sick and stop 🛑 them .

There seems to be a lot of contradictions he says lo me . How am I suppose to contact him if he works 2 days pre weekend and being off . And I do not like to have to go to emergency to have symptoms addressed again ! Last two 2 X I had a clot and COVID !

Whereas my Oncologist was very reliable and spoke factual yet caring ! Not saying to me , other patients were more important, that he has to see ! But giving his time to me when we had an appointment , even calling back , saying his office was there for me .

Now it feel dsirespected and especially after I conceded to take my meds as prescribed . That this GPO told me that the old way was to take your meds , go home basically not complaining . Yet every time when I refer to my med monograph it says to consult th physician ! for symptoms ,side effects !
I Even had been refusing the Oncologists offer for another medication replacement of one I suggested previously . That the GPO was upset at me for asking to change with less side effects as Osteoporosis . Oh dear caught between sad , and depressed for this compliance disrespected it feels . And being modelled the right best way through my Oncologist who referred me there .

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