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Careers: full time/part time - how has CML affected your work and career?


I am interested to hear other peoples experience  of how CML has affected their work and careers.

I was diagnosed in my mid-30s 4 years ago. After taking several months of sick leave, I returned to work part time having previously been working full time. The diagnosis really affected me psychologically. I’m in a much better place mentally than I was at the start. However, I find that I get tired and achey easily. My job is intense and stressful and I’m not sure I could return to full time work. However, the mental space I’ve had to give to CML over the years has meant I’ve missed out on work opportunities and I now feel behind in my career compared to my peers. This initially didn’t bother me but it is starting to bother me more and more. I’m not sure where I should fall on that line between ‘I have CML, life’s for living, don’t kill yourself at work’ vs ‘you have a manageable illness, carry on as normal’. 

How has everyone managed CML and work? Have you continued your same working patterns as pre-diagnosis? Has your perspective on work changed? 

Many thanks for sharing your experiences.

Wow your post really resonated with me. Diagnosis really hit me hard too. I was diagnosed 2 months into my 3 month probation for a FTSE company as a software engineer. I was 37 at the time. When diagnosed I had no space for anything and work was the 1st to go. I had 2 months “off” of work and then I did what I could manage to do without taking any pay cut and I managed to keep my job and 3 years later I am still here. I would commute 70 miles each way to work but doing reduced hours because of the times I took my medication in the morning and evening because I am on Nilotinib. I wasn’t ever going to carry pills with me on my commute in case I lost them and at that time taking every single pill religiously made me nervous in case I missed a dose.

The capacity for work was extremely hard, mentally I was so messed up. I lost passion for everything. I felt angry, cheated, shocked and very sad. I cried all the time.

Since diagnosis everything has been different and a lot of it believe it or not for the better. The passion will return and so will the drive. Don’t force it let it come naturally. Like you I have no real desire to better my career prospects at the moment because it’s safe and comfortable where I am. But as time is going on I am getting more itchy to spread my wings but can I deal with the pressure and the change this time in my life.

If we are responding to treatment we should try our best to continue living life. But I do live for the moment. I practice mindfulness and meditation since my diagnosis and it changed my life in so many ways and all for the better.

You’ll hopefully discover what works for you and that passion one day will come again. But it is about a work life balance. I don’t care so much for material things. As long as I have my wonderful family and select couple of friends, a roof over my head and fairly comfortable what else in life is there to really aspire too. Success is subjective and there is so much more success to attain rather than the success of a career.

CML has taught me life is very fragile, a thin line, can change in an instant. I am just grateful for every day that I get to be with my wife and kids, family and friends. What else really matters?



What a wonderful post Alex ! This for sure will help many who have this questions around career &life. 


Much love & Regards

I have struggled with work.  I am a contractor, business intelligence and database work, so move in and out of companies.  For most of my life I've relished the pressure and energy of being pulled in on projects and learning the company and needs on the fly.  I was on a long term project when I was diagnosed.  This was a relief as I was friends with these people.  They were understanding.  I've recently switched to a new project at a different place.  I still feel the excitement of learning a new organization and getting rolling on a new data tool, but I'm more mentally fragile now.  The pressure is hard for me.  

Just this evening I was wondering if I should pursue a job opportunity at the place I was last working.  They let me know about it, and I like the team.  It would be less money, but more security as I sometimes have time between gigs now.  Though I would lose the excitement of jumping on a new project with a new team and company regularly, the inherent pressure of that scenario is much more stressful for me now.  

I am two years post diagnosis.  I really thought that CML would be a simple matter of taking my pills and life going on as it always has.  I kept waiting for my body to settle into the meds but they don't agree with me, and I don't get to just stop taking them.  I need to get my head around who I am now, what I can do, and what I can no longer do.

Thanks for bringing this up.  It is timely for me.


Super post, Alex - so well expressed!  Maria, for what it's worth, you're way ahead of where I was at two years post-diagnosis.  I would say it took me about 8 years to fully process the whole shebang and could honestly say I had a pretty good life back.  At ten years, I was solid.  Happy, even. Gratitude finally kicked in as well.  Like Alex, I can say that in some respects my life actually improved.  But, boy, at two years?  I was a super duper real mess.

Thanks everyone for sharing their experiences. It’s reassuring to feel I am not alone in my struggles with work. And really reassuring to hear kat73 that it’s taken you 8-10 years to feel ‘ok’ about CML. Im 4 years in and, although better than I was 2 years ago, it still feels like there is a way to go...