Topic: To work or Not to work - that is the ?

Forum: Employment, Insurance, and Other Financial Issues — Employment, insurance, and financial concerns are common. Meet others here to discuss and for support.

Posted on: Aug 31, 2010 12:40PM - edited Aug 31, 2010 12:41PM by mossybaby

Posted on: Aug 31, 2010 12:40PM - edited Aug 31, 2010 12:41PM by mossybaby

mossybaby wrote:

Hello ladies - I'm faced with the decision of whether I should go back to work or not and I'm not finding it an easy one.    I've been out for almost 1 year now collecting SSD and have been getting by ok.  I am on my 3rd round of different chemos to fight metatasis.  Currently, it is Gemzar/carboplatin/avastin - a combo that I have only 1 more treatment to take next tuesday Sept 7th.  I must return to work by Sept 20th or I will  loose my job & benfits.The good thing is I will have the option to Cobra my medical benefits for up 18mo though the cost for just myself will strech my cramped budget even more.  I would have to try to get med assistance for my kids.  Another dilema is that I plan on living much longer then the 18 mo. and giving up a job/benefits in this economy seems unwise. 

Other then that, there were 2 other ladies at my work place both with cancer who came back at their year mark and both who have since passed.  I guess one of my biggest fears is that going back into a 9-5 job,then taking care of my kids at night will run me right back into sickness.  I will have a petscan the week before I'm scheduled to return to work which I guess if it says clear I have no excuse.  I just wanted to hear some stores about people who have choosen to go back to work or who have choosen to stay home.  Has returning to work affected anyone negatively? 

Thank you for your time and for sharing your experiences - Yvonne

Yvonne Dx 4/2009, IBC, 6cm+, Stage IV, 11/12 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Aug 31, 2010 12:59PM makingway wrote:

That is a tough decision...On one hand you'd be less stressed financially by keeping the job, but on the other, you're faced with the stress of working. Is the job a highly stressful one? Can you do less work hours? Take work home? Maybe higher a Nanny to help at home if you keep the job.  If you stay home the Cobra costs are a fortune and they do run out. You might qualify for AFDC(Aide for Families with Dependent Children) or Medi-cal with the kids. If you get that poor to qualify for these programs I think you'd be wishing you'd kept your job.

Visit my website for helpful tips when using cold caps:penguincoldcap.wix.com/help Dx 3/2/2009, ILC, 4cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/19 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Aug 31, 2010 03:00PM ibcmets wrote:

Yvonne--If you were SSD for 2 years; you would qualify for medicare health insurance no matter what age you were.  Do you have the option for Long Term Disability at work?  They would continue paying your benefits.  Also, check with your HR dept. re: cobra.   I heard that if disabled; we are able to qualify for 3/4 reduction of cobra cost for 9 months.  You may be able to get cobra extended beyond 18 months in order to qualify for medicare. 

My company sent me detailed info on all of this.

Terri

6/2009 stage IV diagnosis w bone mets ,Xgeva , 2015 brain mets, liver metastasis
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Aug 31, 2010 07:19PM - edited Aug 31, 2010 07:21PM by mossybaby

Hello again.  Thank you for the ideas and information.  Oddly enough - i will be taking home less every month by returning to work.  Since my SSD is very close to my work take home pay, I will actually loose money because of the need for travel expenses & after school daycare (a whopping 600 a month) & gain stress by returning since they do not offer partime/reduced workloads.  I'm an entry level/ low paid accountant and since it is a sit on your butt job they don't consider mental stress as a factor.  I really feel like I should not go back but I can't shake the whole giving up my job & benefits regardless of other alternatives.  

Thank you IBCmets for the medicare info.  I looked into it and you are absoluely right.  So in actuality, if I leave work and COBRA for 18 months I will only be uninsured for 1 month before the 2 year medicare kicks in since SSD approved me in April 2010.   I will also ask about the reduced COBRA thing.  I do think I can get something called CHIP in PA for my girls. Do you mind me asking did you go back?  

Sorry to go on & on about this.  The decision is just consuming my every thought at this point.   I know there are alot of ladies out their with no insurance or few options and who are having a much harder time then I am.  I wish you all the help and support you can find. 

Thank you again - Yvonne

Yvonne Dx 4/2009, IBC, 6cm+, Stage IV, 11/12 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Sep 1, 2010 12:57AM ibcmets wrote:

Yvonne,  I'm still on long term disability with my company as well as SSDI since 6/09.  I'm in the same boat as you except if I went back; I would have to stand 8 hours a day selling--no sitting in retail sales.  I make about the same in SSDI as I would make working, maybe a little more since I've worked since I was 15.  I may have an option to go back to the same company after 24 months and take a different position offered.  I'm not sure at this point wether I will opt for this since I make the same amount of money with SSDI.  I would love the benefits and activity of going back to work, but I do not know if I would be able to handle a full day.  I believe I will have the reduced cobra option that will take me into medicare and still have health insurance.  Good luck with your decision and please check on the reduced cobra rates that you would qualify for.

 Terri

6/2009 stage IV diagnosis w bone mets ,Xgeva , 2015 brain mets, liver metastasis
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Sep 1, 2010 01:53PM nancyd wrote:

I used "intermittent disability" while I was in treatment which was like getting extra sick days, although they had to be specified ahead of time. In between my chemo days, I worked fulltime. I was only out for an extended time on short-term disability when I had surgery (1st for bilat mx; then for recon 18 mos later). Rads were easy as I chose a facility near my office so I could just go over after work each day and then head home.

I don't think being back at work has made any difference in my health...negatively or positively. One thing I have decided, though, was not to let any stress get to me. I'm not a rocket scientist, or a heart surgeon, or make anything that would/could cost something their life if it malfunctioned. It's silly to get stressed out because one of my projects is a few days behind schedule. I work for a book publisher, and all it means is that it will be in the bookstores a few days later than expected. Will it lose sales? Maybe, but certainly not enough for me to lose my health.

Life is good. It's not perfect. but it's good. Dx 2/22/2008, IDC, Left, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 4/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Chemotherapy 3/21/2008 Adriamycin (doxorubicin), Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 7/10/2008 Mastectomy; Mastectomy (Left); Prophylactic mastectomy; Prophylactic mastectomy (Right) Hormonal Therapy 8/31/2008 Arimidex (anastrozole) Radiation Therapy 9/4/2008 Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 1/27/2010 Reconstruction (Left): DIEP flap; Reconstruction (Right): DIEP flap
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Sep 1, 2010 04:59PM - edited Sep 1, 2010 05:00PM by lovemygarden

Yvonne, do you know yet how much your COBRA payment would be, and whether you can afford it going forward? I went onto COBRA at one point in 2002 and was shocked to find out that it went from the $50/month that had been taken out of my paycheck pre-tax while working, to almost $700/month for the same coverage as a COBRA payment! I paid it for only part of the year and then my budget just couldn't take the strain anymore.

In hindsight, I'd practically kill to find an individual policy for only $700/month anymore! They now cost more than double that, where I live. Money mouth

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Sep 2, 2010 10:32AM mossybaby wrote:

Hello again - my current medical insurance is 200 a month for full family coverage and it will go up to 400 a month for medical alone for me.  After sitting down and writing up all my bills & expenses, it does seem that I will make less not going back because of that extra 200 in insurance.  This is because I may have found a way around daycare. ( Counting that in there would be no comparison at all.  )  I'm still not covinced that the extra money would be better overall for my health though. 

Truthfully, I wonder if I put myself in this position in the first place by working.  For the first 6 months of my treatments on TAC, I worked & suffered through neverending days & nights.  I was beyond exhausted & sick.  I went out after the mastectomy & didn't return yet because of continued treatment for reoccurance on the surgery site & in the lymph nodes.  In hindsite, I wonder if I stayed home, rested and let my body heal without added stress - would I be at stage I'm at now?

Anyways, you can't change the past only the future.  I'm just praying for some divine wisdom to shine it's light on the path I should choose.  Thank you ladies for your yout thoughts and concerns.  Sometimes just talking through different areas can help to light the way. 

Lots of love - Yvonne

Yvonne Dx 4/2009, IBC, 6cm+, Stage IV, 11/12 nodes, mets, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Sep 3, 2010 04:53PM 3monstmama wrote:

Definitely a hard decision.  My perspective on working through treatments has changed in the last two weeks. I worked during my treatment--rads--and during my subsequent stupid radiation pneumonitis.  My review for the year was okay, I thought.  Then I got the hard copy to read ---the one that goes in the file.  The rating is fine but the comments.... Yell .. OMG--- a steady stream of complaints while barely touching on any of the commendations.  Honestly if you read the comments, you can't understand why I got the rating---you'd expect it to be MUCH lower.  Now I am the first to admit that I was not at the top of my game from February on but honestly, one would think that if a boss knows you are dealing with breast cancer you get some credit.

Anyrate, when I vented to my therapist, she said she sees this all the time---women who work during breast cancer treatment are basically perceived as not really being sick because in part perhaps, no one wants to think of getting and dealing with cancer.  So women like me who work during radiation end up with snippy reviews when they would have gotten kudos had they taken the time off.

Which is a long way of saying, I guess, that were it me, if I could afford it, I would reserve my strength and time for my kids and skip the work.

good luck!

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

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