Returning to work

I will finish chemotherapy in a few weeks and have to decide when to go back to work. I initially said I would go back about 6 weeks later but my family doctor says that would be crazy and that I should take several months off after the treatment to recover. I actually feel fine but I would prefer to stay home longer. What are your experiences? When did you return to work?


  • Hello @Claudia.... thank you for starting this topic; in some of the previous posts we started to talk about this.

    As everyone is different with their surgery, treatment, recovery and situation,  I would also agree that it is key to be recovered before going back to work. What does recovery look like for you? Please take some time to consider the physical recovery and the emotional recovery. Again, it will be different for everyone. 

    A good place to start is to have a discussion with your doctor, your care team, psychosocial support and your family / friends. It will also depend on what your work involves. 

    How will you know if you are ready? A detailed and well planned website is 
    There are good resources there for the survivor, employers and health care providers.
    Delve deep into the site to do an assessment. They also have a return to work plan that can assist you on your decisions and assessment if you do not have this type of assistance at your work. You may need to show this site to your workplace team as well, especially if you encounter difficulties. 

    On a personal note: It took me almost 1 year to heal physically (I had vertical incision and 6 months of chemo) and then the emotional impact was felt after,  and I dealt with that for 6 months before going back gradually. 

    Again, it will be different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way - just your way :)
    Wishing you the best of luck and feel free to direct message if you wish.
  • @Claudia It truly is individual I think. I' fortunate to have a job that I can work a bit as I'm going through this. But I know I could never do a full day. And I'm also not involved in any major decision  making at this time. I am just doing small tasks a few hours in my third week. Going back to full tasks and full-time feels completely and utterly overwhelming, both physically and emotionally. 
  • Yikes...I had my hysterectomy Dec. 1, went back to work Jan 9, started chemo Jan. 17 and have pretty much worked my regular hours. (9-4, 4 days per week) I am tired but its a desk job and I really have to concentrate so I don't forget to do certain tasks.  I can leave early whenever I need to, which is good. 
  • I can’t address this on a personal level as I was extremely lucky not to have chemo after my surgery, but can as a home care nurse who saw hundreds of chemo patients over the years. A handful continued working through their treatment and coped well, but these were definitely a  very small minority. Emotional recovery was a bigger factor than I expected it to be. Yes, very individual.
  • I thought I’d be back a month later but the treatment effects are cumulative. I felt worse a month after treatment ended. At 6 months after frontline treatment and pelvic radiation I started the process of returning to work. The initial plan given by the insurance coordinator was 8 weeks gradual return. It took me 6 months to get to full time and I immediately dropped back to 4 days once I was off disability. I’m now 18 months from end of treatment and I am back at full time. I’m thankful for a very understanding workplace. I found that in the 1st year I didn’t have energy for much outside of work so depending on your other responsibilities you may find returning easier or others have said it’s so individual. 
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