After a breast cancer diagnosis, everyone’s priorities are different. You may continue to work, take time off or give up work completely. There is no right or wrong, and your choice will be dependent on your circumstances.
If I have learnt anything from this past three years it would be to ask for more help as no person is an island. No matter how independent you are, be kind to yourself and allow as much time as it takes to heal mentally, physically and emotionally.
Side effects from breast cancer differ from person to person. It is important to talk to your employer about potential side effects from treatments like surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy so they can make the necessary adjustments for you.
You may need time away from work to have treatment, to rest and recuperate physically and emotionally.
On your return to work, it’s likely you will need to adjust your working day to accommodate for fatigue and physical capability. Honest communication with your employer about your needs will help make this process easier.
Chemotherapy can sometimes cause cognitive changes such as difficulty thinking clearly and problems with memory and attention.
These side effects are often referred to as ‘chemo brain’ or ‘chemo fog’. These changes can last months or longer and can affect a person’s confidence at work and in social situations.
If you are experiencing ‘chemo brain’, you may like to speak with your doctor and develop some strategies to help you to feel more in control and confident including:
When choosing to adopt these strategies, speak with your employer so they are aware and can support you moving forward.
If you have metastatic breast cancer, it is likely you will fluctuate from feeling well to feeling unwell. This is dependent on your treatment, the stage of the disease and how you feel physically and emotionally.
It’s a good idea to speak with your employer about when you are likely to feel well enough to work and together you can arrange your work tasks accordingly.
I learned to know myself better, to set realistic goals and importantly, to reward myself for everything I achieve. I no longer take myself for granted, I appreciate anything I do because I know how difficult it all is.
Listen to BCNA’s podcast Work after breast cancer: Tackling the difficult conversations.
Watch BCNA’s webcasts:
Visit My Journey, BCNA’s online tool for information tailored to your diagnosis.
Join our Online Network if you think that talking to others online and sharing experiences will help.
Contact BCNA’s Helpline on 1800 500 258 between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm AEST Monday to Friday, for information about the services and support that may be available for you and your family.
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