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Changes to work

If you have cancer, it’s possible that the way you work will need to change. If you work outside the home, you may have to take time off or adjust your work schedule to allow for treatment, rest and recovery. If your work is running your household and taking care of your children, you may also need to change the way you do these jobs, by getting someone to help you.

It’s helpful to know what types of benefits you’re entitled to at work, even if you don’t plan to take time off. Your employer, human resources manager, personnel officer, union or employee association should be able to answer your questions.

Taking time away from work

When you’re first diagnosed with cancer, you may wonder whether or not you should work during cancer treatment. Many factors will influence this decision, such as how much sick leave you have and whether you can afford to be away. Some people find it helpful to not have work to worry about during treatment and like to take some time after treatment to adjust and rethink what they really want to do with their life.

For some, taking time away from work may feel like a relief. But it can also be stressful, particularly if you have to live on less money.

Many people enjoy their jobs and it can be difficult to give them up. Giving up work for a period of time makes some people feel as though they are giving in to the cancer. If you feel this way, try to think of the time away from work as an opportunity to concentrate on your health.

It may be helpful to talk to your employer, human resources manager or employee association to find out what your options are.

Continuing to work during treatment

Some people continue to work during treatment because of financial needs or simply because they find work fulfilling. Even if your goal is to continue working, you may need to adjust your schedule, working hours or days off to fit your treatment and recovery schedule. Your human resources department should be able to help with this.

If friends and family can help out with day-to-day tasks at home, this can make it easier for you to continue working.


Dr Shana Kelley An ultrasensitive blood test for cancer

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