I finished my treatment - surgery, chemorads - in May, last year.

I returned to work in June, and have become more and more tired ever since. It's got to a point where I'm re-thinking my career. It's a physical, fast paced job. I don't enjoy it, but I've never felt so overwhelmed before.

I dread going into work. I'm so tired. 

I have spoken to a few specialists. The ones that knows me have suggested I take time off, but my GPs (who I don't know very well) are a bit unsure. 

I don't know what to do.

Has any one considered taking extra time off work, despite months passing since treatment finished? If so, how long did you take off? If not, how did you learn to pace yourself after such significant changes? 

  • Hi and the million pound question.

    I would always say that your wellbeing and recuperation is paramount and on the whole you are the best person to read what your body is saying and what you can actually do.

    Not taking more time off now - could result in you not getting back on the recovery road and ending up you not being able to move on with life.

    A cancer diagnosis and treatment journey can indeed make us review what is important and for some it does result in a change of focus and job. but again this is very individual.

    If your team think you should take time off get them to talk with your GP.

    How long do you take? as long as is required but this can always depend on your financial circumstances.

    You may want to use our various Macmillan Support Line Services on 0808 808 00 00 This free service covers Emotional Support, Practical Information. Financial Support and Work Guidance mostly open 8.00 to 8.00 but check the link.

    Mike - Thehighlander

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

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  • Are you able to consider part time work. Cancer is classed as a disability and therefore your employer must consider any change in working patterns due to condition or effect of treatment. Perhaps a few hours less a day

    I don’t think I’d advise a job change (although not impossible)

    I’m currently working from home - if that’s possible for you

  • I know it's a bit of a whopper of a question! I don't suppose there's a magic formula. 

    Work (NHS) offers good sick pay, on a rolling basis, so it's not a financial decision - which is a lucky position to be in. I can access a few months paid leave.

    I feel a bit weak/pathetic. I'm worried this is all in my head. The tiredness is overwhelming sometimes. you say, it's worth listening to my body. It's disorientating finding myself in a body with no energy and I think a lot of it is re-learning how to pace myself.

  • Hi

    Don't underestimate how tired having cancer n the treatment afterwards can make u feel, nor feel weak/ pathetic.

    You are not a wimp nor the first person to feel like this. It's definitely about learning how to pace yourself, eg if I have a busy day, the next one I try n take it easy, then do stuff the day after and so on. If I can't avoid it, I know I'll ultimately pay for it, by being so worn out.

    It's definitely not just in your head. Please believe me.

    Hugs xx

    Fear of the unknown is the worst thing. Once we know what we're facing, we find the strength to deal with it.
  • So you are not even 1 year post treatment yet so still in the recuperation stages.

    I would say it took me a good two years post treatments to say I was standing in the light end of the tunnel and even then I still have ongoing post treatment medical challenges.

    I don’t know if you have seen this great paper?....... have a look as it dies highlight the milestones of post treatment recovery.

    Mike - Thehighlander

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

    Click to see how to add details to your profile

  • No - not a year.

    Lots of people I met during my treatment were returning to work soon afterwards - I thought that I could, too.  

    I will read that paper/somebody else showed it to me a while ago, but I never read it/I need to take this advice of board. 

  • Hi , don't judge yourself by others' experiences. We're all individuals n react differently to the same circumstances. Work is different too, depending on what job we do. Obvious, but maybe we don't always take this into account?

    Fear of the unknown is the worst thing. Once we know what we're facing, we find the strength to deal with it.
  • I know for myself if I get too tired I get very emotional. It’s not something I want to deal with.

    Still early days of recovery and so learning to not feel guilty at taking it easy. Being 51 I still think I’m 19 but come 9:30 I’m often ready for bed. Hoping to gain some energy to return to normal.  I often think am I tired because I’ve done so little over the last year or am I truly tired.  Has my stamina decreased due to doing less or because of treatment.  How much do I push and how much to give in.  Sometimes I feel if I listen to my body I’d do nothing


  • I compare myself to others a bit too much, but I'm overwhelmed - both emotionally and physically. It is embarrassing seeing others coping better than I am -  I can't help feeling that way. But it's not helpful/probably a product of exhaustion.

    It's hard to be rational when I'm exhausted.

  • Yes, I know just how you feel. It's very disorientating/easy to get trapped in a rabbit hole