Can working during treatment be harmful?

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Question from Kona: My wife has breast cancer metastasis. She is currently receiving her second round of radiation therapy and will probably soon receive her third round of chemotherapy. Through all this, she still insists on working full-time, calling in sick on only the worst days. Could she be doing herself harm working during treatment?
Answers - Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. It's unlikely that working during treatment could be causing her harm if she's not experiencing physical discomfort or other symptoms. If her energy level is adequate and she's able to work, I would encourage her to continue working for many reasons. It's important to remain physically active. Psychologically and mentally, work helps us remain engaged and productive. However, if your wife feels that work is somehow contributing to her feeling worse, again there might be accommodation with respect to type of work, the number of hours she's working, the number of days a week she's working etc. that she could address with her employer. And she should discuss with her doctor the specific side effects she can expect from treatment and how to incorporate her work and treatment schedules together into a productive program for her. I encourage people to work if they're up to it.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Working During Treatment featured Barbara Hoffman, J.D., Irene Card, and moderator Ruth Oratz, M.D., F.A.C.P. answering your questions about the legal, financial, physical, and emotional aspects of working during breast cancer treatment.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

A production of LiveWorld, Inc.
Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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