Your emotions

You may feel angry that you have to interrupt your career, or guilty because other people are having to fill in for you. You may worry that your colleagues will be frustrated because you can't do the things you used to be able to do, or that someone else will take your place.

You may also feel out of touch and alienated from your workmates, or start to lose confidence in your abilities. Even if your employer and fellow-workers are being totally supportive, sometimes your treatment can make you feel low. You may go through some of these emotions and anxieties even though you know they’re unfounded.

Get all the support you need

All these feelings are completely natural, but they may affect your recovery, or make it harder to do your job when you do go back.

It can help to talk openly about how you are feeling with your employer or HR department. If you work in a large organisation, they may have their own employee support scheme that you can access.

There may also be an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which is a confidential telephone support service for all employees, and can include the option of face-to-face counselling. Ask your manager or your HR department if your organisation is a member.

Counselling can help people with self-esteem and confidence issues. If this is something you are interested in, talk to your cancer care team to see what is available, or contact one of the organisations listed here.

Stay in touch

Keep in touch with your employer during the time you're off work. They may suggest making a welfare visit to see you. If so, you can suggest a neutral place to meet if you prefer to see them somewhere other than your home.

Try to stay up-to-date with what's happening at work and maintain regular contact with your colleagues and work friends. Keeping in touch will make it easier for all of you when you're ready to start work again.

Returning to work after a break can be stressful. You may feel awkward about seeing your old colleagues, and anxious about meeting new colleagues who started while you were away.

The fact that you haven't been working for a while, combined with the experience of having treatment, can sometimes lead to a loss of confidence.

Boosting your confidence

Take any steps you can to help look after yourself. For example, some people find meditation, massage, yoga or tai chi can be very relaxing. Or you may prefer complementary therapies such as acupuncture. You should always check with your doctor before starting any complementary therapies.

Counselling can also be a great help in restoring your confidence and making you feel less nervous about starting work again.

Some people find that having cancer changes their ideas about what job they'd like to do. If you have one, your CLIC Sargent care professional can help you explore new options.

Updated January 2017, next review due December 2017.