- Question from Janice: I am an RN working in a walk-in treatment center. I will be starting chemo next week. If my counts remain OK, should it be OK for me to work?
Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H.
Working is important to many women for several reasons, such as finances, maintaining a normal routine, and maintaining your sense of who you are as a person. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, working should be fine and perhaps very helpful to you.
If you are working with people who have highly contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, however, a change in your job description may be appropriate. Your doctor, who knows your situation the best, can help advise you in this decision.
Working during chemotherapy does not make you a better person. There is no need to be "superwoman." Nonetheless, if working is important to you, explore this with your doctor.
I can usually tell which patients will keep working based on how they ask the question. For example, if a woman says, "Is it possible for me to hook onto the Internet while I'm getting my chemotherapy so I can stay in touch with work," working will be very important to her. Another woman might ask, "I don't have to work during this, do I?" Work will be much more troublesome to her as she already has mixed feelings about her job. You may be somewhere in the middle.
Marisa C. Weiss, M.D.
If you are worried about taking time off from work, ask your doctor to help you. A very simple note from your doctor to your employer can ease the way and take the pressure off you. Even taking a few days to a few weeks off can make an enormous difference to you and your recovery.
Editor's Note: For more information on working during treatment, see Breastcancer.org's section on Breast Cancer and Your Job.
On Wednesday, February 18, 2004, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Chemotherapy Updates. Jennifer Griggs, M.D., M.P.H. and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answered your questions about advances in chemotherapy treatment: different types of drugs and regimens, how to reduce or eliminate unpleasant side effects, and more.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. 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.
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