Thoughts on scaling back work role?

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Hi. I am going to be 52 this July. I had BC and a mastectomy in January 2022 and so far, so good - I am very lucky to be feeling ok and taking my Tamoxifen etc. One thing I have noticed is how anxious I am feeling a lot of the time which may be menopause related or just the way I am… I am a team manager for a smallish service in a Local authority and find myself constantly questioning my decisions and taking my team’s issues to heart etc. I never had ambitions to lead the team and it was weird taking on that role after being their ‘equal’ colleague previously, however I have done it for several years now. I said I would do it too I’m 50 and here we are! I would like to give up the managerial role and go back to being a ‘regular’ team member as I feel this would make me happier and less stressed overall despite the slight pay cut. My husband doesn’t think I should as he thinks I may just get annoyed with whoever takes over (I would try not to!) I enjoy the main part of my job but I don’t enjoy the people management bit… any thoughts anyone? Am meeting my own boss on Monday to discuss and he has already said he will try to persuade me not to step back so I am feeling a bit conflicted! Thank you Pray 

  • Hi  and welcome to this little corner of the community. This is going to be a hard personal decision for you and only you will know what is best for you and your family.

    I was 43 (1999) when I was first diagnosed with my incurable but treatable blood cancer…… I loved my job and continued to work at my demanding teaching job in further education for 12 years. During those 12 years I was having periods of regular treatment but still was able to maintain a full timetable. 

    At one point my line manager went off sick so I covered his position for 6 months, he did not return and I was offered the job but I had come to realise there was more to life than money and more stress.

    I also found that my condition and general health was starting to be affected by the ever increasing stress levels is education and I have to say that the person who got the post was not that great at the job….. adding to the stress challenges as I kept thinking I would have done a far better job so once I reached 55 I took early retirement…. I only got a few years before my condition became very aggressive so went in a very challenging few years of treatment but I turned 67 last Nov and I am living a great life.

    I wish you well n your decision.

    Mike (Thehighlander)

    It always seems impossible until its done - Nelson Mandela

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  • Thank you for taking the time to read and reply. I am glad you made what seems to be the right decision for you, Mike - the highlander. I know in my heart it’s what I want but I am worried I am just being a bit of a snowflake! Everyone has stress in their jobs and maybe I should learn to deal with it differently so it doesn’t affect me as much. I wish you well anyway 

  • Hi Likklejo,

    I too work in a local authority team, though have never wanted, or taken, a management position. However, I returned to work on a phased return after pelvic exenteration surgery, preceded by chemoradiotherapy. I had been working a 4-day week contract prior to my cancer diagnosis. I got back to working 3 days a week and had the option at that point of returning to my 4 days or staying at 3 days. If I did the latter, there was no going back to 4 at any future point. I agonised about it and spoke to my partner and friends. I worried about the drop in salary and the impact on my pension, being 62 years of age. 

    I'm happy enough in my role, but decided, on balance to put my health and wellbeing first and stick with 3 days. I wasn't sleeping well and was concerned about the impact on my performance at work (my memory has got awful!). 3 months on, I'm so glad I did. I don't actually notice the drop in income, surprisingly, and I've had to take the hit on pension contributions - hey ho! I feel relieved and better for making the decision and actually now wonder what took me so long to decide!!

    As far as your management role goes, my advice would be - go with your gut rather than your head! You might not love what your new manager will do, but I bel you'll be glad you're not doing all those managerial tasks you dislike now!!  Is the added stress worth what you get out of the role? You've got a fair few years of work left and they should be good years after what you've been through, in terms of job satisfaction. 

    Please don't let anyone talk you into staying. I know well what local authorities are like when they need someone to stay in a role they might otherwise find hard to fill! Your physical and mental health is WAY more important than their staffing issues! 

    Good luck with your decision - it's a tough call, but from what you've said, it sounds like you know what you want for yourself. Go for it!!

    All the best,


  • Hi  

    I understand your dilemma. I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer last January. Have a look at my profile if you'd like to read my history. I worked up to my first surgery date and thought I'd be going straight back when I'd recovered. However things progressed until I became stage 4, my prognosis isn't that great, although I am currently well after treatment.

    In my job I became responsible for the department after my colleague retired. I was later promoted to manager only 6 months prior to being diagnosed, despite doing that job for 3 years. I was responsible for staff, rotas etc. I, like you, wasn't keen on the people management side of it. Especially when a lot of the staff were not particularly good at their jobs and had challenging behaviour. This caused me a lot of stress, I thought about work and work situations constantly, wasn't sleeping, my diet wasn't good. Basically, I was too busy looking after everyone else and neglecting myself. I personally feel that all these factors had to have had some bearing on my diagnosis.

    I am in the process of hopefully being granted early retirement. In some ways I feel that cancer has forced my hand but in others I do not miss the stress. I'd be interested to know what you decide.

    A x

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  • Hi,  , I'm afraid I agree that a cancer diagnosis and stress do not go hand in hand. My one day paid job I eventually took ill health retirement, but I still work for myself. At least I can stop if I get fatigued or anything.

    Would there be any chance of you perhaps job sharing? Initially it might be stressful but with the right person it would hopefully work well, and should you wish to retire early they they might be able to take over. Just a thought.

    But it needs to be your decision, with your family maybe, not your boss. Take care

  • Hi I am a cancer survivor into 7 years now. I returned to work a year after treatment and have achieved such a lot, promotions and 2 totally different job roles in different departments. In the past 18mths chemo induced neuropathy has worsened. I am in the process of applying to cut my working days down to 3. My boss is not making it easy

    You seem to know what you want to do. My thoughts are, after everything we have been through we know our mind Nd body better than anyone. I whole heartily believe you should always do whatever is going to make you happiest.