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Returning to work

Hi there, 
I just saw my oncologist today and we talked about returning to work (again). I completed chemo in March 2022 and am now on Niraparib. Currently my issues are sleep problems, tiredness, drowsiness (probably due to sleep problems, plus Niraparib) and anxiety about returning to work.
Anyway, I'm going to start using Melatonin, and found a great book on sleep at the cancer centre's patient library. I've started volunteering in my field (teaching adults) to help me prepare for returning to work. My doctor thinks that overall I'm doing well, and ready to return to work, but it's anxiety that's impacting my return to work. I've lost a lot of confidence with not working for a year. I decided to return to work in two weeks' time, with a gradual return to work.
I guess I'm anxious about handling the physical and cognitive demands of the job, and whether I still have the knowledge and skills. 
I've been cautioned about returning to work too early, but I think there comes a point where you are (mostly) ready and just have to do it. The longer I put it off, the harder it gets. 

Does anyone have any helpful insights on their return to work experience? 


  • Hello @Hobnob - I was in your position a couple of years ago; feeling anxious about returning to work. The key for me was to do it gradually.. If I remember correctly, it took almost 3 months to gradually build my hours from part-time to full-time.. My employer was very supportive and gave me full freedom to build a schedule that worked for me.. At the end I was glad that I made that decision (return to work). Good luck with your return to work! 
  • @Hobnob
      It sounds like you are ready to return by what you wrote which is a good sign.  If your employer does have a gradual return to work program available, I would start with that and go forward. I know a lot of ladies with cancer who did the same and had the same worries that you have and are now doing well in their roles. It is kind of like riding a bike, once you get back on, I am sure you will fall into your groove.  If you need to write some things down, so be it.  If you find you can't answer on the spot, tell them honestly that you can't recall it just now but that you will get back to them.  I am sure they will understand.  I owned my own business and jumped in with both feet but that was me and just who I am.  I now don't work and have retired from my profession.  I wish you the best of luck on your return and know we are here rooting you on!
  • Thank you @Keepcalmandbreath and @Strongwoman. I really appreciate the supportive messages. I've been volunteering for the last month (related to my profession) and that's been helping. Melatonin just make me super sleepy the next day, so I changed the time I take some meds, including the Niraparib, and I'm trying my best to address the sleep problems. 
  • @Hobnob I also did the melatonin thing and stopped it due to the way it was making me feel and the dosage I was taking.  I was working with a cancer naturopath at the time that was connected with my oncology team as well.  It was a joint decision to do so.  I am on a sleep aid that is prescribed now and like it as it does not have a "hangover" effect and you don't have to time your dosage to avoid any adverse effects in the morning.  Plus it shuts my brain off from thinking and I am able to sleep.  If I am reading after taking it, I slowly just stop absorbing what I am reading and then know it is time to shut the lights off and go to sleep.
    I hope you find something to help you and/or your team does.
    All the best!
  • @Strongwoman That sleep aid sounds promising. Do you mind me asking the name of it? I've never had prescription sleeping pills and am worried about the next day sleepiness, plus becoming dependent on them. 
  • @Hobnob
      I had never taken a sleep aide before either and was very leery about it. The one I had prescribed to me is called Zoplicone. Ask about it with your oncologist to determine whether it would be recommended for yourself or not. I was also skeptical about the hangover feeling in the morning that I have heard that some sleep aides do and this one does not do this (as my oncologist stated).  I went on it last year during my treatment phase and then went off again. I am back on it now. 
      I hope this helps so that you can have a discussion about it.
  • @Strongwoman OK, that's great, thank you. I"ll ask about it. Do you just take it as needed?
  • @Hobnob I currently take it nightly.  If I did not, I would only sleep 1-3 hours a night.  I have a lot going on and truly can't shut my mind down.  The other thing I did find it does is, shuts the signal off to the organs so I don't find I am up and down a lot to go to the bathroom.  
    But again, talk to your doctor/team and determine if this is or is not something for you.  
    I have tried melatonin and 1:1 oil as well and do not find them as helpful as this but that is me.  I worked with a cancer naturopath who worked with my team while taking the melatonin and got a referral to a cannabis doctor for the 1:1.  I have found that I don't take it anymore since getting the sleeping aide pharmaceutical.
  • @Strongwoman Thank you. I am seeing my oncologist this Wed and will ask about Zoplicone. I definitely need something. The Zejula (now on 100mg) is still making me very drowsy during the day. It's like all I want to do is sleep. I could sleep 11-12 hrs a night I think, but maybe it's not a good sleep.