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Cancer and Careers

Posted 8/9/2014

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  I am delighted today to remind or introduce you to a wonderful online resource: Cancer and Careers. Work is central for many of us, and having a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment is rarely a professional asset. I will admit that, for me, having cancer has been a professional boon. Don't misunderstand: it surely was not worth it, but the experience of having had two breast cancers myself has given me solid credibility and a stronger voice. Unless, however, your business is cancer-related, this is unlikely to be the case.

  For most women, work presents immediate and ongoing questions and problems. Can I work through treatment? How much time off will I need for surgery or after each chemo cycle? What are my benefits; do I have short term disability or sick time? Far too many people are in jobs where they don't get paid if they don't work, and those jobs are often physically demanding. Others have jobs that pretty much make it impossible to work through treatment; I am remembering a couple of women who are construction workers and many women who are pre-school teachers and worried about spending time in those germ-filled classrooms.

  Cancer and Careers has a very rich website, offers many webinars, and is well worth bookmarking. Here is a quote from a current article on their site and then a link:

Reports by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society estimate that the number of survivors (defined as anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer) will reach almost 18 million in the next decade. Men have slightly less than a one in two lifetime risk of developing cancer; for women, the risk is a little more than one in three. These numbers only validate what many of us already know to be true: these days you're hard pressed to find someone who doesn't have a cancer story, whether they were the one diagnosed, or a family member, spouse, friend, teacher, coworker, etc. Not only are more people being diagnosed with cancer, but more people are surviving and living long after.

As the number of cancer survivors continues to increase, the need for support around survivorship issues, such as working during and after treatment, is becoming more and more important. Here are some statistics that demonstrate just a few of the ways that cancer and work intersect today:

41% of cancer survivors are diagnosed at “working age” (Mariotto AB, Yabroff KR, Shao Y, Feuer EJ, Brown ML. Projections of the cost of cancer care in the United States: 2010-2020. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Jan 19;103(2): 117-28. Epub 2011 Jan 12)
Cancer survivors are more likely to be unemployed (JAMA 2009; 301(7):753-762)
20% of cancer survivors still report work limitations affected by cancer-related problems 5 years after diagnosis (Work & Cancer Survivors)
In 2013, EEOC received 954 cancer discrimination claims



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