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Workplace Issues

Posted 8/24/2016

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  One of the first questions for most people diagnosed with cancer (coming shortly after: "Am I going to die?") is "Will I be able to keep working?". Obviously there is no single answer. That decision depends on the treatment, the demands of the job, the relative support available in the workplace, possible flexibility of schedule, finances. I have known people who worked right through quite rigorous treatments, with a little time off as needed to be here for infusions or appointments, and others who quickly decided that the right choice was time away from work. To some extent, the choice about "time away" is a luxury. If you don't get paid unless you show up, it is more difficult to choose a leave.

  Sometimes the specifics of a job matter a lot. For example, many pre-school teachers decide that being in the "germ factory" environment of groups of small children is not wise at a time when their blood counts will be low and their immunity compromised. I also think of a woman who worked construction and knew that she physically could not keep up with the demands of the job--in spite of the real efforts of her male co-workers to help her.

  If you choose to keep working, there are lots of decisions about how to present yourself and plan your job. One wonderful resource is Cancer and This site will have answers to most of your legal and practical questions.

  This is a very good article from Cure Today that speaks to many of these issues: 

What You Should Know: Thriving in the Workplace During or
After Cancer

Brielle Urciuoli

Between appointments and follow-up visits, getting treatment and managing medicines and their side effects, cancer can feel like a job. But what happens when patients or survivors are ready to actually return into the workforce?
CURE spoke with Rebecca Nellis, Chief Mission Officer of Cancer and Careers, on how to navigate the career world during or after cancer. Cancer and Careers is a New York City-based organization aimed at empowering and educating “people with cancer to thrive in the workplace.”
What are some of the most common difficulties that patients and survivors of cancer face when returning
to work during or after treatment?
Some of the most common challenges that patients and survivors face include determining whether to work through treatment or take time off, deciding whether or not to disclose a diagnosis at work — and if a person decides to disclose, to whom and how
— managing treatment side effects at work, deciding that they want to make a career change after a diagnosis, looking for a job after being out of work for treatment and addressing a gap on a resume from time off for treatment. These are just a few of many issues that come up when work and cancer intersect, but they’re some of the ones that we hear about most often.

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