Topic: Teacher confused about work

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

Posted on: Apr 22, 2022 03:56PM

Posted on: Apr 22, 2022 03:56PM

noey69 wrote:

I am an elementary school teacher. When I received my BC diagnosis in February, I continued to teach (with a couple of 1/2 days off here and there for appointments) until my surgery. It was so stressful. I wasn't sleeping and my job is not one that you can function well (with 27 kids in my care) on limited sleep.

My nurse navigator had explained that I would have the lumpectomy w/ node biopsy, followed by 4-6 weeks of radiation three weeks later and then, likely, tamoxifen. I used that information to communicate with my principal and we decided that it would be best to get a long-term sub for the duration - to provide continuity for the students through the end of the year and to give me the time to properly heal without the stress of my job. I know that many, many people work through radiation, but I am choosing not to do that. When I am teaching, I work from 6:30am-4:00pm and then bring work home most nights, plus the weekend. I have 7 months of sick leave saved up from working for 22 years and hardly ever taking sick days. At any rate, I figured that I would likely be out until almost the end of the school year - if not the whole school year. In my mind, this would all work like clockwork!

Well, here I am now at 3 weeks post-surgery. My surgeon wrote me out for 2 weeks to heal, but I had my 2nd post-op and radiology consultation appointments this week. I figured that radiation would start next week and it seemed not to make sense to go back to my class for one week, only to leave again. I communicated this with my principal, and - once again- we agreed that it would be best for the students not to have a teacher who is in one day and out the next.

I have an appointment next week with my oncologist (first appointment) who will be discussing chemo as an option. My radiologist explained that my Oncotype score of 19 puts me in a "gray area" because of lymph node involvement. So, the oncologist will discuss pros/ cons with me and then I will make a decision. If I decide no chemo, radiation will likely start around May 9th. That would give me 2 weeks (minus a couple days of appointments/ simulation/ oncology) where I could be working. I was raised to believe able bodies work.

At any rate... I'm so torn as to what to do about work. There is a licensed teacher in the room. She is set to be there until June. I know that is probably best for the students rather than me coming back for a few days and then leaving again.

I know this was long winded and rambling... Are there any others out there feeling torn like this?

Plus having to "decide" about chemo. Ugh. I'm not even good at deciding what I want to order from a menu for dinner!

Surgery 4/1/2022 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal (Left): Sentinel Radiation Therapy 4/1/2022 Left breast Hormonal Therapy 6/1/2022 Dx ILC, Left, 1cm, Grade 2, 1/6 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Apr 22, 2022 04:06PM - edited Apr 22, 2022 04:07PM by quietgirl

I wasn't in your exact situation but I'm going to say if you have the time I would take it. I am sure if there is a two week break where you are feeling great you can use it to get some personal things whether it's decluttering a room or precooking something comfort food. I understand that you are torn between the two but it's probably in the best interest of you and the students that you take the time for self care rather then jump back for those two weeks (if you didn't have 22 years experience I would say you could work on future lesso plans 🤣). Do you have any continuing Ed that you would like to complete or a book you want to read or anything like that.

Surgery 2/7/2022 Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy 3/9/2022 Whole breast, Radiation boost: Right breast Hormonal Therapy 4/18/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx DCIS, Right, 3cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+
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Apr 22, 2022 05:42PM exbrnxgrl wrote:

My circumstances were different than yours. I was stage IV de novo but had a relatively easy time. I did take a 3 1/2 month leave of absence but was bored at one point and went back as soon as I was medically cleared. I taught for 10 years after my dx and retired last June. I am still a teacher at heart and have been subbing 2-3 days a week. I felt more than ready to return (there were two different long term subs during my leave) but you do need to put your health first. Take care

Dx IDC, Left, 4cm, Stage IV, Grade 1, 1/15 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 22, 2022 05:52PM rain88 wrote:

Noey69, I am an elementary teacher as well, with almost as much experience as you. I didn't have to undergo chemotherapy, but I decided to take as much time off as I could. Even though everything went as planned and I recovered well from lumpectomy and rads, Tamoxifen was hard on me. I also felt that I wasn't mentally ready to carry on as before the diagnosis and offer my students the attention and the teaching they all deserved. So, I went back only after 6 months and I was greatful I could afford the time off. Hope this helps with your decision. Best of wishes going forward!

Dx 27/7/2019, Mucinous, 11 mm, Stage 1, Grade 1, 0/10 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-, Lumpectomy (right), Radiotherapy, Tamoxifen (15 months) Radiation Therapy 11/27/2019 Whole breast: Breast Radiation Therapy 11/27/2019 Whole breast, Radiation boost: Right breast Radiation Therapy 11/27/2019 Whole breast, Radiation boost: Right breast Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2020 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Apr 22, 2022 06:48PM salamandra wrote:

"I was raised to believe able bodies work."

Do you work a second job all summer and school holidays? I know I don't.

Work is very socially conditioned and teachers have extra layers of guilt piled on. But please let this go.

You're talking about two weeks that are already covered, with your students' expectations already in place.

Is it possible you're worrying yourself over this because it's less scary than worrying yourself over the treatment?

I took off for all of my radiation treatment. I could have commuted for it, in theory. It would've been long days but technically I could have. I'm so glad I took it off.

Dx at 39. 1.8cm. Oncotype 9. Dx 9/19/2018, IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/18/2018 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal Hormonal Therapy 11/1/2018 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Radiation Therapy 12/3/2018 Whole breast: Breast Hormonal Therapy 12/19/2019 Fareston (toremifene)
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Apr 22, 2022 07:27PM noey69 wrote:

Thank you for the replies.

Some of these feelings have come from the fact that every medical professional I have spoken with so far has mentioned that they "have hundreds of patients who work through radiation", and how I "can go quickly before or after work", and "which location is closer to your work?" In each conversation, I've replied that I have sick days and want to use them, but it still left me feeling a bit like I'm asking for something frivolous.

All in, if I don't go back this school year, it will mean taking 9 weeks off (the 2nd week of recovery from surgery was our Spring Break). Then, I'll have summer to adjust to whatever meds/ hormone therapy. The unknown is so scary. It may be that radiation is no biggie, but I just don't know it yet. And, like rain88 commented - I don't know that I'll be able to fully be the teacher that I would "normally" be for my students.

Thank you for sharing your stories. I am going to try hard to focus on me and realize that my students are in capable hands.

Surgery 4/1/2022 Lumpectomy (Left); Lymph node removal (Left): Sentinel Radiation Therapy 4/1/2022 Left breast Hormonal Therapy 6/1/2022 Dx ILC, Left, 1cm, Grade 2, 1/6 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Apr 22, 2022 08:11PM quietgirl wrote:

I will say that I did work thru radiation my RO said plenty of people due fine working thru treatment but I also did not have the option of not working (first year with this school not on a contract/salary but an hour rate once I use up sick time I would not be paid). My commute was so close from work to the office it wasn’t a big deal but my appointment times were all over the map. I was able to make it work because I pretty much am functioning as a building sub. But if I had the sick time I would have taken the days. Wearing clothing that were appropriate for work and something that was comfortable during treatment was sometimes a challenge and if treatment times got delayed because of something I wasn’t always back when I thought they would. I did it but it was a pain really. Maybe you will float thru treatment but maybe you won’t but if you do it might because you aren’t trying to do both. Teachers come home tired enough at the end of day. Don’t feel guilty about using your sick time you have earned it.

Surgery 2/7/2022 Lumpectomy (Right) Radiation Therapy 3/9/2022 Whole breast, Radiation boost: Right breast Hormonal Therapy 4/18/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole) Dx DCIS, Right, 3cm, Stage 0, Grade 2, ER+/PR+
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Apr 23, 2022 12:20PM mle42 wrote:

I think doctors emphasize how people can work through treatment as part of their efforts to reassure people. I think they tend to focus on the best case scenario to ensure people don’t get scared away from treatment. Now, some people DO experience the best case scenario. Others don’t. Regardless of how treatment goes for you, it sounds like you are setting up both your students AND yourself to be well taken care of. Planning to take this time off of work is absolutely not frivolous. There is no moral requirement in cancer (or any other part of life) to work until you’re exhausted. Some people have a financial requirement, but it doesn’t make you lazy to take the sick time you are entitled to in order to focus on your health.

Dx 5/17/2021, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 3, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/25/2021 Lumpectomy (Right); Lymph node removal (Right): Sentinel Radiation Therapy 11/30/2021 Whole breast, Radiation boost: Right breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2022 Arimidex (anastrozole) Targeted Therapy 2/17/2022 Verzenio Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol)
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Apr 23, 2022 09:47PM maggie15 wrote:

I am a high school math teacher who did work through radiation. I guess I felt guilty since my classes would be sent to study hall if I were absent sine there were no subs who could teach them. I took every Friday off since that was the day I saw my RO, and that happened at random times rather than after school. I bought some oversized tops so I would be comfortable. It sounds like you have a competent sub so you should not feel guilty. I had an intermediate Oncotype of 20 and decided against chemo. I don't think I could have taught through chemo due to the side effects that come with it.







DX 2/15/2021, IDC, Right, 3 cm, stage 2A, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Apr 23, 2022 10:34PM miriandra wrote:

I was fortunate enough not to need rads, but my friend did after her lumpectomy. She said the radiation treatments themselves were no big deal, but she would get exhausted very suddenly and very randomly. She could go two days without missing a beat, then hit a wall and sleep for 14 hours. I would side with the group saying take the time off to hedge your bets. You and your administrators have done a great job making sure the students are covered. I think your plan to use your built up time off is a good one.

Dx 5/31/2019, DCIS/IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, 0/1 nodes, ER+ Surgery Mastectomy (Left)
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Apr 24, 2022 12:32PM kksmom3 wrote:

I'm a FT kindergarten para, no such thing as a para sub for me, and I worked thru rads, but you have a competent sub, and it sounds like your class is in good hands. I would take the extra time off. I did ok, got tired at the very end and took a day off, but as a para, I didn't go home and work on things, like I know you do. Why not pick a day or two and just have lunch with your students? I know that will warm everybody's hearts, it will do you good and them as well. You can concentrate on getting well.

Dx 8/8/2018, DCIS/IDC, Right, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 10/1/2018 Lumpectomy; Lumpectomy (Right); Lymph node removal Radiation Therapy 10/29/2018 Whole breast: Breast, Lymph nodes

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