Work after cancer

One of the side-effects of cancer that you aren’t really aware of until it happens to you, is the financial cost.

I stopped work the day after my cancer diagnosis, and had 9 months off. Thankfully I have a very supportive workplace so didn’t suffer with a dramatic loss of income while going through active treatment. I am in education, and it was considered too high risk (to me) to be in work at this time.

I did return to work shortly before starting radiotherapy, and was able to work every morning before travelling the hour-long journey to have radiotherapy. I was determined to do this, as was desperate to return to ‘normal’ life. But it was incredibly tiring! I had no energy for housework, socialising or anything much really, for those five weeks. It was very difficult. But it did mean that I was earning again, which I both needed and wanted to do.

I suggest that if you or a close family member are diagnosed, that you look into what benefits you qualify for. Macmillan can help with this  if you’re not sure where to start.

Macmillan benefits info.

Cancer takes a toll on your finances. You may not need benefits, but it is worth looking into.

Also, if you have critical illness on your life insurance, speak to your insurer as soon as you can.

As for going back to work, there is no date that you ‘should’ go back. Every cancer, person and family is different, so don’t let anyone tell you that you need to go back, if you don’t feel ready. However, if you can go back part-time, I would recommend it. I felt so much better (mentally) for returning to work. I felt useful again, and was completely bored with with being at home.

You may not be able to go back to work as quickly as you would like, though. Often there are complications from treatments, not least of all fatigue. Fatigue is not just feeling a bit tired. It’s something that many cancer survivors have to put up with for years; long after friends are expecting you to be back to perfect health again. My advice is to be kind to yourself. Cancer is not like flu, you don’t suddenly spring back.

Of course, you may not be able to afford to be off work for long. Make sure that you know all of your rights in the workplace. And get support from friends and family: could someone make you hot meals for your first week back at work, or help with your laundry or grocery shopping? Don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help. Often people do want to help, but they aren’t sure how to.

You may not feel like going back to the same job. Many survivors don’t feel like the same person after cancer. You may suffer from anxiety or PTSD, and may not be able to go back to a high-stress or long-hours job. If so, give yourself some time to think about what you really want, amd look into different options. Talk to loved ones to see what they think.

When you do return to work, make sure that you keep your manager in the loop, so that they can support you. They can’t help if they don’t know that you are struggling. All people who have been diagnosed with cancer are protected by the law, and employers are not allowed to discriminate against you. You are entitled to reasonable adjustments, and to apply for flexible hours. Could you work from home one day a week?

Macmillan discrimination info

Going back to work can be surprisingly difficult, but it is one way to try to reclaim your life; to forge a ‘new normal’. Just make sure that you only do it when you are ready.  Speak to your employer so that they can support you. And don’t expect everything to be exactly the same as before. Take your time with any changes, and remember to be kind to yourself. ☺

 

 

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Naming the Fear & Claiming the Truth

Faith, Fertility and Me

Living with infertility is like being a passenger on a plane experiencing constant turbulence, with no idea how long the flight is, where you’re going or when you’re going to land. There’s nothing you can do except put your seatbelt on and ride it out. It’s a scary place to be.

Becca plane

Someone recently asked me how I manage to find peace while dealing with such turbulence. I often tell people my Christian faith helps me through difficult times, but I’m aware this can come across as a bit wishy-washy. What does that actually mean? This has led me to reflect on what ‘having faith’ looks like in my everyday life.

For me, faith is active; it’s a doing word, not just some far-flung concept. It’s an enabler. It creates a safe environment in which I can sing when I’m winning and cry when I’m losing. It is the solid rock…

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Mr Bumblebee

Look at Mr Bumblebee,
He’s such a handsome fellow.
So proud and smart and stripy:
Ventablack and fire yellow.
A distinctly busy chap,
Always working, never stops.
He has an internal map,
Which means he never gets lost.
See him flying everywhere,
Doing an important job.
Never resting on a chair,
No-one could call him a slob.
With the arrival of spring,
He works overtime all day.
Tirelessly on the wing,
No time to enjoy his pay.
Dear Mr Bumblebee,
You have earned a little rest.
Sit with me and drink honey,
Taste the fruits of your success.
Mr Bumblebee drawing