Week out from 1 cycle BEP and trying to plan ahead for work cover

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I'm minus 1 week to 1 x adjuvant course of BEP.  I work for a small business and love my job, it's not manual and I can work from home.  I had it in my mind I'd need maybe a week off after the first 3 days of treatment, then a day or 2 off after the following 2 sessions.  Is that completely unrealistic?  My job is flexible and I'll be able to take off whatever is needed but should I be preparing for much longer?

Appreciate any thoughts!

  • Hi ,

    Thank you for reaching out to us. My name is Emma and I’m a Work Support adviser here on the Macmillan Support Line. As you have asked for advice around what to expect whilst undergoing treatment and I’m not medically trained, I’ve asked our Cancer Information Nurses if they can respond to you. I hope they will be able to give some advice on how realistic your expectations are for treatment.

    I’m pleased to hear your role is flexible and that you can work from home. It’s also great to hear you can take off whatever time you need. I hope this will help you manage the balance between working and going through treatment. I also thought if you do not already know about your rights at work, some information may be useful.

    I am assuming that you have told your employer of your diagnosis and so you will be protected under the Equality Act 2010 if you live in England, Scotland or Wales or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you live in Northern Ireland. The Acts protect you from discrimination as well as requiring your employer, should you need them, to make reasonable adjustments for you at work. Reasonable adjustments are any changes or adaptations that could help you overcome any substantial difficulties that you face due to your cancer. Taking time off for appointments could be classified as a reasonable adjustment, as would changes to targets or working part days whilst you are undergoing treatment. I can appreciate you are trying to put plans in place when you do not know how your treatment will affect you yet. It’s important to note there are no rights or wrongs on how you manage this, only what works for you in your situation.

    You may find our booklet “Work and cancer” helpful with your planning as it has chapters on working during your treatment. We also have a booklet for employers called “Managing cancer in the workplace” which your employer may find useful. If you feel you would like to make a request in writing for any reasonable adjustments, the Equality Advisory Support Service have a template letter you could use.

    Please also remember we are here to support you if you need us whilst you’re undergoing treatment and onwards. If you find your finances are affected due to needing to take time off, we have a team of Welfare Rights advisers you can contact for information on what financial support may be available to you. They are available from 8am to 8pm on weekdays or 9am to 5pm on weekends on 0808 808 0000 option 1, then 2, then 2. Or you can reach them via email or webchat.

    We also have our Cancer Information and Support team available from 8am to 8pm every day if you need practical information, or just someone to talk to about how you’re feeling. Their number to call is 0808 808 0000 option 1, then 1.

    I hope this is the support you are looking for. Please do come back to me if you do need further support.


    Kind regards,

    Work Support Advisor
    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email
  • Hi JG80

    Thank you for contacting us. My name is Isobel, one of the Cancer Information Nurse Specialists on the Macmillan support line.

    I see that Emma our work Support Advisor has been in touch I hope you have found her reply helpful.

    It’s really difficult to say if you are being unrealistic, it’s good to have a goal, however I am very pleased to see that your job is flexible.

    Flexibility will be key here, as everyone’s response to chemotherapy is very individual, as are the side -effects that they experience It is possible you may find that you need more time off than planned.

    With a regime like BEP, the first 3 days are the longest and planning for a week off after this is a good idea. The next sessions will be when you have Bleomycin on its own, generally day 8 and day 15 of the 21-day cycle, these are usually shorter days, so you may feel ok to work

    It is important to take in time for recuperation from all the treatment that you have had. Cancer fatigue can be cumulative and affect people while treatment is ongoing or for some time afterwards. Pacing yourself will be very important as well as staying open to the fact you might need to change your plans.

    I hope that your treatment goes well, and you can manage to do your work which you clearly enjoy.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us again. You may also find it helpful to speak to one of our Cancer Information Nurse Specialists on the support line who would be able to discuss this with you in more detail.

    With Best wishes,

    Isobel Y – Macmillan Cancer Information Nurse Specialist

    You can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or send us an email

    Ref: IY/PG