I only found out about this forum from a cancer council lady at a recent Relay for Life event and thought I'd post to try it out. This post is for anyone who wants to share their experiences about returning to work after cancer. I hope you can post your experiences here. I am in remission after treatment for blood cancer, had a bone marrow transplant last year which fixed me up. And I feel great about that! Last January I returned to work part time four days a week, and was as keen as mustard to get back into it. I think it was too early, and had to change it to three days a week. I am a high school teacher so there isn't a lot more flexibility left in the the job, ie shorter days or less days. I am finding that three days a week stresses me out and I end up doing work on my days off to keep up with things. Thing is, after all these years, I think I have come to the conclusion that I don't want to teach any more. After facing an initial 50-50 prognosis my reaction to life has changed, priorities have changed, and I don't feel like putting up with other peoples s*** anymore. Since going back to work my blood pressure has gone thru the roof, and it could be due to my line of work. One of the antirejection drugs I am on also raises blood pressure, so we (doctors and I) are trying varying medications and increasing antihypertensives to control the BP. After raising the dose of antihypertensives my BP is still high. So I am monitoring my BP daily at home and at work and keeping records to see if changing medication levels will help. I have a side effect of the transplant called graft versus host disease that affects my liver and a few other things (gives me blood shot eyes as well). This hasn't improved since going back to work either. I have got used the the astronomical figures that come back in my liver function tests every month, they go up and down like they have a life of their own. My wife says that I need to quit work, as she says she'd like me to still be around in a few years. The BP is scaring her. She works and says we can manage on her salary. My kids are still at school and I find I don't have enough energy for them as I am putting it into my job. The conclusion I am coming to is that I need to quit work and spend more time convalescing and being with my family. It will mean giving up my position and maybe even a change of career later on. So, any reflections, positive suggestions? Want to talk me out of leaving my job or tell me to take the leap? Please post.
Pinkeye, I agree it is a very big decision to make however I would definately reccommend you to go to a retreat be it Ian Gawler or Petrea King as it is closer for you as I am firmly of the belief it will give you guidance not only emotionally in making your decision but will focus you on meditation, stress release ideas, nutrition. Trust me I have been to a number and each time I come away much stronger and more focused on living. Wishing you all the best and take care.
Congratulations Pinkeye for taking the step to give in your notice. It must have been so hard for you and of course facing a future without the identity of your occupation will be daunting. I believe it takes a very special and caring human being to know when the time is right for such a change. I am sure that you will find other areas that you will be able to contribute to using the skills you have as a teacher and mentor to the younger generation and receive as much pleasure and satisfaction from. As far as personal developement work shops, I could not reccommend them high enough. I may of course be a little bias here as it is my profession as a life and meditation coach, however to be able to meditate give such a sense of peace and being able to cope with what is going on around you. Certainly search for the programmes that are around your area, and if you are up to travelling then something that could be a little further afield. I know that if I had not done the work that I have, I certainly would not have been able to cope with my husband's illness. Keep smiling Pinkeye and know that your wife and family will be so grateful to have their husband and father around them. Congratulations once again.
Thanks to Kate and Sharon55 for their posts. Their posts got me thinking, and the reference to the Ian Gawler workshops got me talking to someone at work, who mentioned Patrea King workshops which is much closer to home. So I have some places and things to investigate before taking the leap / burning bridges. So trying to sort the mind out with someone else's guidance is now another path available to me. I found more useful info on stress and blood pressure on one of these websites in a paper. I did try mediation and relaxation in the past but could never make it happen, maybe going somewhere where they focus on this might help? The other day I got so frustrated and tied up in knots, it make me realise how much I am not coping and how I am getting stressed. Stress is something that I need to manage a lot better. The other night I woke up at 3am and I couldn't sleep, emailed my haematologist for help, and got a reply by 8.30am which was great and calmed me down a bit. After speaking to someone at work I realised that there are a few avenues open to me I didn't even think of that might give me some room for a while before I commit myself to a big leap. The discovery continues.
Hi, My opinion is you should give up work. To me stress is the biggest issue and you need to get that totally out of your life. I have been to retreats run By Dr Ian Gawler in Melbourne and have witnessed after the 10 days men phoning their work and quitting as your life is the most important thing. Take care
Hi Pinkeye, I feel as though you have answered your own question in a way. As a wife of a cancer patient, I know I would love to hear my husband tell me that he has decided to other things with his life in the future. He is not a point to where he is willing to give up his profession as yet, and that is fine as we are still in relatively early days. You have been through your treatment, and decided to give your career one more go and it sounds as if it is no longer the statisfying position it once was. Your wife and family would much prefer to have you at home and being with them creating wonderful memories than seeing you suffering further with your health because of your position. You could start to see this as an opportunity to start a whole new career or a chance to take it easy for a little while and get to know your family again. I understand that would be important for you to have a sense of being active and contribution, and I am sure that there would be so many other areas that you would be able to do this without the pressure of your current position. Ultimately it is up to you and when you are ready to move on. Only you will know that. As I said earlier I would love my husband to making plans for life after his treatment and our future together, however at this point in time his career is one of the things that is keeping him positive and looking to the future. Good luck with it all.
Hi Pinkeye - I am new to this site and only joined after attending the Living Well After Cancer talk at Coffs Harbour today. I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia 5/6/07 and had a stem cell transplant 18/10/07. I am returning to work this Monday to see how I go. I am a legal secretary and work for a sole practitioner - who is the best boss in the world. If all goes well I plan to work up to 3 days a week but shall take a day at a time. I just know that my boss (Susan) will be telling me to have an early mark when I still have petrol in the tank and want to work the whole day. Like you - I am keen as mustard to get back into it but if I feel I'm not coping shall try again a little later. I have not had any sign of GVH which I am a little worried about as they say a little is good and have heard that chronic GVH is not fun. My doctor is not worried about it though and is slowly reducing my cyclosporin and am down to 50mg twice daily. As my sister was a perfect match may be I might not get any GVH - who knows. Will let you know how my first day back at work goes. Lisa
I hope your first day went well Lisa. The flexibility in work sounds good. I have had a very supportive workplace as well, its good when your colleagues can be your supporters as well. As for GVHD, my donor was a complete match, but I still got GVHD, so there's no telling is there? I was told that GVHD can crop up anytime in the years following even if you don't get it straight away. I am on Cyclosporin too, recently down to 75 twice a day, also on another anti rejection drug based on mycofenolate. I find that the cyclo makes me feel spewy sometimes. I just had my immunisations for twelve months, it set the local surgery record for the most number of immunisations at the same time. Unfortunately they only gave me three jelly snakes for seven shots, kids get a better deal on a one for one basis. Look after yourself, John
Well, its one of the hardest things I have had to do, but I have handed in my notice. I work with some lovely and dedicated people in a demanding environment. My work mates have been very supportive and understanding. There are a lot of emotional ties there. In the past few years I have found it difficult to get into the self help stuff, so I haven't made it part of my life. More than twenty years ago I used to be able to meditate and quiet the mind down but haven't been able to do this again when I have needed it. The brain is going too fast. I have decided to go to one of these mind body medicine workshops and see what I can get out of it.
Cancer Council NSW would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which we live and work.We would also like to pay respect to elders past and present and extend that respect to all other Aboriginal people.