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Breast Cancer | Cancer and Work

Emotional Health Videos

Working with breast cancer

I was a head teacher, and I was going to have to have some time off; not a great deal.

But either you're not going to tell anyone, in which case the question is: "Where is she?" Or, you're going to tell everyone and you're going to say, well, it's a 50-50 situation. If I come through, it's very encouraging, because it shows things are working. And if it isn't, you're not going to be dreadfully surprised and upset that you didn't know there was something wrong.

But managing time, if you're a working woman with breast cancer, is quite difficult because of the tiredness and the radiotherapy and the treatment.

And I think for many women, that's one of the biggest multi-tasking issues of how you deal with breast cancer and work.

Not just family and friends, but your working situation, and how important it is for you, for your own self-image, if you need to go on working through treatment.

And I don't know how people have coped with that.

I only had to have radiotherapy, but I was very; it wasn't really so physical but I found that my concentration was very bad, and I felt very tired. So, I really couldn't work more than about three hours a day.

And a kind of miracle happened, because I'm a picture restorer, and I'd been to see probably the best picture I shall ever work on, about six months before.

And I hadn't heard anything from the owner. And he suddenly rang up, just when I'd had been diagnosed, and I said, "I'm terribly sorry. I can't do this." And he said, "It doesn't matter. I'll wait."

And that was a tremendous carrot for me to get up and get going. I realized how important my working life was to me, and how much I relied on it. And what a shape it gave to my life. And I don't think I'd really quite understood that before.

It's interesting, isn't it, because for some people, the most important thing is that, actually, they give up working. They stop working.

And they allow themselves the space and the time to learn to be and be with themselves and find themselves in another way. And they're actually moving out of working and letting it go can be the most difficult thing, but actually the most rewarding thing.


10605 Revised November 2012

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