Working During Cancer Treatment


While undergoing cancer treatment, some people are eager to carry on as normal and continue to work throughout their treatment. Some people choose to take a leave of absence to concentrate on their selves and on their healing. If you are planning to continue to work during your treatment, first consider the following:


The type of treatment you are receiving 

Side effects of certain cancer treatment such as chemotherapy is fatigue or extreme tiredness. You may find that you may be too tired or too sick to do much. 


The stage of your cancer 

How advanced your cancer is may directly affect your physical ability to work.


Your overall health

Depending on how you are feeling during treatment may limit how much and how long you can perform certain tasks.


The kind of work you do

For people who have an office or desk job, it’s easier to arrange for more flexible hours or to work from home. But for people who work in less flexible environments, such as in a factory, it is often difficult to work part-time. 


Most importantly, discuss your plans to work during treatment with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to provide advice on how to manage any side-effects you may experience that may interfere with your ability to work and whether you need to limit your activity. 


Here are some helpful tips for working while undergoing cancer treatment: 

    Inform co-workers about your situation

    If there is no reason not to, inform your co-workers about your situation. They can be a great network for support. However, you may also want to mentally prepare yourself on how co-workers may react to the news. Some may react positively with understanding and support. Some may feel uncomfortable for varying reasons such as being reminded of a loved one’s time with cancer or out of fear or discomfort. Having a plan on what and how much you want to share will help you better manage uncomfortable situations. 


    Manage expectations

    During cancer treatment, you may not be at your best – physically, mentally and emotionally. Discuss your situation with your boss to manage their expectations and your own with regards to your possible diminished ability to perform your work duties as well as before treatment. Explore options on modifying your responsibilities where possible.


    Explore flexible working hours

    Find balance between work and rest by exploring flexible working hours, shorter working hours or the option to work from home.


    Keep a work journal 

    Some people undergoing breast cancer treatment may experience thinking and memory problems. Make notes of important conversations and record meetings with the time and date to help you remember things you might forget.


    Keep a work schedule 

    Stay organised by having a detailed schedule on when your work days and off days are as well as work appointments and meetings.


    Plan treatments to allow time for recovery

    Schedule treatments for the end of the work day or right before the weekend to allow yourself ample recovery time.


    Plan for someone to take over your duties when required 

    Make a detailed list of your job duties and arrange for someone at work who is able to handle your duties when you’re not available.


    Get help at home

    Arranging for friends and family or hiring professional help to assist with the everyday tasks at home, such as cleaning, caring for your children or preparing meals, will take a load off and give you more time to concentrate on work.


    Give yourself a confidence boost

    Some cancer treatments may have side effects which causes hair-loss. Stay stylish with comfortable yet fashionable hair wigs and head accessories from Can-Care, your personalised post-care partner. Shop from a variety of attractive turbans, head buffs and bandanas to brighten your day. Or join other women like you at the Look Good Feel Better workshop – a free program that teach women with cancer special beauty techniques on how to manage appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment. In a recent global survey, 96% of the Look Good Feel Better workshop participants say that the workshop helped improve their self-image and that they experienced a 78% increase in self-esteem and confidence. 


    If you do decide to work throughout your treatment, remember not to neglect your personal well-being. Take care of yourself, don’t over work and rest when you need to. 

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