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Chemotherapy: What To Do While In Treatment

Daily And Work Life

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Being in chemotherapy treatment doesn't mean changing your everyday normal life. There are some aspects that will need to be adapted, but generally being in chemotherapy does not mean turning your whole life around.

Your daily and work lives will be better it you maintain a positive attitude. It's easy to focus on the side effects of chemotherapy instead of the good that the drugs are doing you. We're not suggesting that you become a pollyanna. The glass is half full as well as help empty. To learn more about how to have a positive attitude (without being a pollyanna),, click here

When it comes to work, do as much as you can comfortably tolerate. In addition to the financial benefits (including health insurance if you have it through an employer), experience indicates that it helps to keep busy and keep your mind off of the treatment.

  • If you experience nausea, time your infusion at the health care center so that the days on which you are likely to be nauseous are days off. For most people, this means getting infused on a Friday afternoon so there is the weekend to recover. 
  • Time off:
    • You may need to take time off work if the side effects make you unable to work.
    • During the two days when you receive constant 5-FU through a chemo port, it can be dangerous to work. For example, if something hits the bottle or dislodges the line. People won't necessarily know you are being infused during that period of time, because the bottle generally comes in a fanny pack which can be anything. Perhaps you can get an accommodation at work that allows you to work at home during those two days.
    • If you need to take time off from work, your oncologist or health care center can write a note for you explaining the situation.
      • To learn about your rights at work, click here. 
      • To learn about accommodations, click here.
      • To learn about working at home, click here.
    • If you need to take time off from work, your health care center can write a note for you explaining the situation.
  • During the rest of the time: 
    • Fatigue or chemo brain may affect your ability to work. If so, learn about how to work around them by clicking here for fatigue and here for chemo brain.
    • If you need an accommodation, learn about your rights, and about how to ask/negotiate for one. For intance, if you have diarrhea, it would be helpful to work close to a bathroom.

For additional information about work, see:

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