PURPOSE: Resuming normal activities, such as work and school, is an important dimension of psychosocial recovery in cancer survivorship. Minimal data exist regarding adolescents or young adults' experiences of returning to school or work after cancer. The purpose of this study was to explore the processes of resuming work and school among adolescents and young adults after hematopoietic cell transplantation (HCT). METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted with 18 adolescents and young adults, who were 15-29 years when they underwent HCT and 6-60 months post-transplant at study enrollment. Interview transcripts were systematically analyzed using Grounded Theory methodology. RESULTS: Participants described the context in which they attempted to return to work or school, specific challenges they faced, and strategies they developed in these environments. Feeling left behind from their peers and their pre-diagnosis selves, participants described "rushing" back to school and work impulsively, taking on too much too quickly while facing overwhelming physical and cognitive demands. Factors motivating this sense of urgency as well as barriers to successful and sustainable reentry in these settings are also addressed. CONCLUSION: Findings are discussed in the context of important opportunities for clinical management, age-appropriate interventions, and implications for future research. A better understanding of psychosocial late effects, specifically related to school and work trajectories after cancer, is critical to survivorship care for adolescent and young adult cancer survivors.