Ovarian cancer

A support group for anyone affected by ovarian cancer to come together, share experiences, and ask questions.

Finished chemo at last - when to go back to work

Posted by

I have finished treatment and have been given all clear.  After being off work for 9 months I don't know whether I am able physically to go back to work yet.  I still get very tired and suffer from numbness in my toes and fingers.  Is it too soon to go back to work family and friends think i should stay off a bit longer to build my strength up.  My consultant said it is up to me.   I have 2 weeks left on my sick note but i don't know what  to do.  I have been in to work on a social visit a couple of times and I really miss my friends.  I don't want to go back to work and then find i cannot cope.   Is anyone else having this predicament I would appreciate comments from anyone else in this situation.


Thanks xx

Posted by

Hi, im back at work after 9 months on reduced hours. It is nice to switch off from it all and 10 hours a week is plenty :) im nor clear yet,still on treatment Avastin but able to do everything as normal...even running,swimming or yoga. i wasnt sure when to go to work but one day i woke up and was ready to go to back. i had also numbness in my fingers but its gone now :) i just would say to listen to your body, if u feel u not ready then dont push it and enjoyed summer

love zuzana

Posted by

Hi Sandyb,

I think it is really up to you - which doesnt help I know!

I run an employment support and VR project for Macmillan and I get asked this queston often. There are a number of factors to consider such as what help your employer will give you, whether you can start back on a "phased return" and whether you might need some temporary changes to you job.

Its natural to be a bit apprehensive about whether you'll cope - lots of people (if not all) feel that!

Your consultant seems to be saying that there are no issues in terms of infection so that's a good start.

If you work for a larger organisation then first port of call should probably be your line manager or Occ Health. If you are in a union talk to your rep.

 They can work with you to put together a plan to help you get back to work that will take into account any worries or diffucluitiues you might have. For example your tiredness - there might be a way to get around that by starting later in the day or finishing earlier  or regular breaks or working a few days a week at first. Are there any changes to your job that you might need to think about to get around the numbness in your fingers and toes?

You might also want to work out what needs to happen to make sure you get paid time off for appointments in the future

If you dont have Occ Health at work then your employer might be able to access help for free via the NHS. And there is lots of help out there in terms of getting back to work.

Mac has a lot of reallygood materials that will help - look for the "work it out " guide on returning to work and the Work and Cancer booklet. I'll post a link below.


There are a few Macmillan projects designed to help you - Manchester, Glasgow and Durham are the ones which spring to mind but there are some more - the mac helpline 0808 8080000 can give you more details or post back here and I'll be glad to get you contact details.

Hope this helps you and good luck! Hopefully you'll find it easy to get back to work.

If you have any questions let me know.



Posted by

After being off for that long, you'd generally go back on a phased return rather than start full time - when you are ready to return.

One thing you could suggest is a trial of doing maybe half a day or a day per week - if your work is happy about this and it doesn't cause financial problems - and see how you find it?  If you struggle, you may need more time off; if you find it easy, you can build up to working more hours.

Another option might be trying doing a half day a week of voluntary work in a local charity and see how that goes.

You may find you get more energy when you start doing work, or it may leave you knackered.  If the finger numbness is a long-term thing, there are adjustments that may help (e.g. I use voice recognition software which means I don't need to type).  You may also find that you get used to day-to-day tasks even with the numbness.