8 months back at work

Posted by belmckenna on 30 May 2014, 10:03AM

Apologies for not being able to get on line as much as I can and thank you to Mandy Forteath for her wonderful dedication to BCNA.  I have thrown myself into my studies as a Pharmacy Assistant, and working 25 hours per week.  I am studying Certificates II and III in Community Pharmacy and about to start the final 6 toughest part, involving Dispensary.  We who have been through Chemotherapy and returned to work, understand the constant challenges of the physical changes that surgery creates, the energy loss and the memory fog.  As time goes by it is improving thank goodness, now it has been a year since Chemotherapy stage, my memory is better.  Must admit it wasnt brilliant before.  I have had to change my tasks at work, and dont do the manual work I was doing before, less Merchandising, and no heavy lifting.  I wish my memory was better, but lucky to work with some ladies my age who are very considerate about that !  I had a week of working full time 40 hours last week, filling in for 2 staff who were away.  It did involve deliveries to a Nursing Home Daily and lots of lifting tubs in and out of a car, fully of medication.  After all this time, I had to finally admit to my boss that I had 2 surgeries under my right arm, and had to be careful not to do any heavy lifting as it could jeopardise my arm.  I needed to avoid Lymphodeama at all costs.  It told him I didnt want to make a big deal of it when I came back to work.  I had told the other ladies I work with, and they had been covering for me.  He said to me "If you dont tell me I wont know!" and "You should have told me"  So after all this time, they all finally know.  It hasnt affected my bosses attitude at all, he is understanding, and he is happy to accomodate that.  I spent 10 months sweating over that.

I have also been interviewed by the Post Script Pharmacy Magazine journalist about my returning to work after Breast Cancer.  This all happened at the end of my 40 hour week, and it seemed to all tie in with my conversation with the boss.  I have been very open about the after effects of returning to work, introducing chemo brain, compromised armpit, and lack of energy.  It is very positive and I have sent the article to my parents to get their view on how it sounds.  I felt it was great for the people in my industry to hear a positive story, and I hope I have explained what "I learnt" during my Cancer experience that I didnt know before, correctly.  It goes into print next month, so stay tuned.

I managed that week well, my main issue at the moment with being a Triple Negative and having instant Menopause, is being woken up with hot flushes 3 times a night.  I have been told to avoid Black Kohosh as it is not good for my liver, and just taking some Swiss Sleep formula.  Helps, a bit.  

Well here we are in winter here in Launceston, and I cant go outside for walks because of all the smoke in the atmosphere from wood fires, yuck, so I get onto my exercise bike for half an hour a few days per week.  Not enough, but better than nothing.  

Not due for my next lot of Mammograms until October, and still have the Portal in my chest, just in case.  Which I dont notice until the 6th week turns up and I have to go to hospital for the flush!

When I was being treated for Cancer last year, without any hair, and thinking how hard it all was, I really did always think............. I just want to get back to my life........and here I am. Love Bel


LouiseTurner's picture

Hi Bel,

it is absolutely awesome to hear from you, and I am so pleased to hear how you have successfully returned to work and feel like you are back living your life. I recall your comments back in treatment, and now look at you. You look a wonderful picture of health.

Hows the study going??? You are right back on that horse! Good luck to you in your career in pharmacy.

I will look out for your article, hopefully you will be able to post it here for us to read. I am sure your story will be an inspiration to others and provide insights into the realities of returning to work after breast cancer. It definately has its challenges. 


JodieWall's picture

Bel you are amazing and look amazing too.

I remember the first time I posted and you, Janey and Deanne were there for me when I was a total mess xxx

Now where has the time gone!

You are an inspiration xxxx

Hi Bel

Robyn W's picture

You are looking gorgeous! I look forward to reading your article Bel,and I'm sure it is as informative and interesting as your blog posts always are.I feel well now also,and the challenge now is to maintain all the new and healthy things that I have taken on board!Nice to hear from u Bel.xxxRobyn


adean's picture

Hi gorgeous and now a celebrity! Ha ha , have missed your blogging but like most of us we are just trying to get a bit of our new lives into perspective, the great thing about this sight ,it's really there when we need it and we can jump on and jump of when we feel like and be welcomed back like old friends. Love and hugs to you bel.xxxx adean

Hi Bel

Michelle R's picture

Good luck with your Certificates, and look forward to reading your article.  You have come through with flying colours, Bel - and you have your fringe back!  Well done and congratulations on getting your career back on track.  Michelle xx

Hi Bel

Deanne's picture

Just as you handled all the challenges of treatment you are now an inspiration as to how to get on with living life to the fullest. It sounds like you are moving forward with a few challenges and changes along the way. Good luck with your studies!
Deanne xxx

Hi Bell

Bearteggie's picture

What an inspiration you are.  I loved reading this post and hearing how you have worked your way back into life.

I am halfway through my radiation now and feeling a little down today as I am uncomfortable and the TNBC is beginning to play on my mind.  Most of the time I am optimistic and look for the silver lining in everything so I am a bit surprised by this anxiety creeping in.

So your post was very timely and very encouraging.  Thank you for sharing it with us.






  • Name:  Mrs Belinda McKenna
  • Gender:  Female
  • Marital status:  Married
  • About:  20 years of hairdressing, then 5 years as a Pharmacy Assistant. Married for 7 years. Now Cancer Free. Moving to Sydney Jan 2015

My diagnosis

  • Breast cancer experience: 
    I have been diagnosed with breast cancer
  • Diagnosis type: 
    Early Breast Cancer
  • Diagnosis date:  15/10/2012


  • Hobbies: 
    Craft activities, Fitness and sports, Reading
  • Breast cancer-related interests: 
    Workplace and career, Medical research

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