Back to Work After Breast Cancer: 3 Tips for Your First Day Back

Going back to work after breast cancer treatment is an important milestone. These tips can help make make this important time easier and more successful.

Take Control
There’s so much about cancer that’s beyond your control. But remember that you’re in charge of how much information you choose to divulge about your experience. Bruce MacDonald, LICSW advises that it’s a good idea to plan ahead so you can handle conversations about your illness on your own terms. “It helps to come up with a short phrase or two that acknowledges someone’s concern and lets them know that you’re doing okay, but that you don’t really want to get into it right now,” he says. You might even consider roleplaying these conversations in advance to improve your confidence level.

If a colleague asks about your cancer and you’d prefer not to discuss it, Bruce recommends responding with something like, “Thanks for asking. I feel good and it’s good to be back. Maybe at some point we can chat about it. How are you?” or “All in all, I’m doing pretty well. Right now I’m really trying to focus on getting back into the swing of things. Thanks for asking – let’s grab a coffee sometime.”

These responses are polite but keep you in the driver’s seat. Put them in your own words so you feel comfortable when the cancer conversation comes up.

MORE: Three easy recipes made with cancer-fighting vegetables 

Take Care of Yourself
A week or so before you head back to work, try to mimic the new schedule you’ll be keeping. Set your alarm so you get acclimated to waking up on time. If you’ve become accustomed to relaxing in sweat pants or pajamas all morning, make it a point to get dressed early and then take on productive activities that require a similar energy level that you’ll need to bring to your workplace.

Remember too that lunchtime might be an opportunity to rest. Instead of making plans to go out with work friends, you might consider packing a few favorite comfort foods and enjoying quiet time on your lunch break.

And, for your first day back, make sure you plan an outfit that fits well, looks great, and is super comfortable. Give yourself a little extra time in the morning to put on makeup and get out the door. Taking these steps can boost your confidence level and help you feel relaxed as you take this important step.

Connect
After you’ve made your decision to go back to work, think about getting in touch with some of your colleagues in advance. Even if you just send a few emails or make a few quick calls, it might help to ease your re-entry into the workplace. And make sure you have a non-work friend or family member you can confide in if you need extra support.

MORE: How to get a good night’s sleep after a breast cancer diagnosis

Breast Cancer News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

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