After getting clearance from your doctor, returning to work after cancer involves three primary considerations:

1) Treatment side effects,

2) Financial and personal factors; and

3) Workplace flexibility.

1) The side effects from some treatments may impact your ability to work. You may have ongoing pain and fatigue which can be limiting. You should consider whether you are physically capable of undertaking tasks while you are still recovering from treatment.

2) Financial factors may force you back to work before you feel ready. Some may have to continue working while undergoing treatment while others can take a break. The financial reality of needing an income to support yourself and your family can weigh heavily on this decision. Be sure to examine all of your options including paid and unpaid leave as well as your insurance coverage.

You may be eager to return to work based on personal considerations including the opportunity to socialize with colleagues, the chance to return to normalcy, and the satisfaction and fulfillment of work.

3) It may be possible to return to your former role if you took time away from work to undergo treatment. Your employer may be willing to make modifications to assist you, such as the ability to work from home, a change in regular hours, adjusted duties, and additional breaks. Speak to them about a supported return to work.

In other instances, it may not be possible to return to your former job due to changes in your ability or due to the period of time spent away from work. You may have to seek out new opportunities. This could be the perfect time for a career change or a chance to go back to school to learn a new skill or upskill.

This can be a particularly challenging time and a good support group will be invaluable to you. That support may come in the form of friends and family or it may be through networks and groups. Online groups like Her Nexx Chapter provide connections to other people who may have similar experiences.

About Our Author

Karlene Latimer

Karlene Latimer – I am a successful lawyer and writer whose own mother battled cancer of the cervix for most of my childhood. She suffered three further relapses but I am pleased to say that she is still with us today. My experience growing up through this, losing five aunts and uncles to cancer as well as my mother-in-law, propels me to help others and join in the fight against cancer.

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