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Working During Cancer Treatment

Can I Still Work During Treatment?


Updated June 13, 2008

To many people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, the decision to continue working in a job or career is a difficult one to make. There are many issues surrounding employment and any decision you make can, and will, seriously affect your way of living.

For many people, a job equals health insurance, and should you lose your job, your insurance benefits will usually go with it. There is no doubt that the decision to continue working after a diagnosis of cancer is a personal and individual one. Some patients might see that they are physically unable to continue working, while others worry what will happen when they start treatment. Cancer treatment affects people in different ways, so if you are concerned that your treatment will lead to hospitalization, it is inevitable to wonder what will happen to your position at work.

Talk to Your Employer About Your Diagnosis

The best think you can do after receiving a diagnosis is to talk to your employer. This will alleviate any undue stress that is certain to occur. There is nothing worse than to be burdened with worry over the status of employment when your health, the most important concern of all, is in need of the most attention.

If your employer knows of your illness early on, he or she can work with you and can expect any leaves of absences that you may need. Your employer can also, at that time, discuss with you any medical leave you may be entitled to, as well as your insurance benefits and how they can best work for you. Many employers offer paid medical leave, with no change to your insurance benefits, so learning this information early in your illness can help you to be better prepared for medical emergencies in the future.


One thought to consider is telecommunication at your job, where you would still be employed, but work from home. Many employers today may have not considered telecommunication as part of their company, so it would not hurt to bring this option up to your employer. Telecommunication will give you the flexibility and comfort greatly needed when dealing with serious health issues.An employer can also offer the patient telecommunication, where the patient will be able to work from home.

Reducing Hours

Another option you have in your career is stepping down from full time, to part time hours. This is something you would need to discuss thoroughly with your employer, as many times, when an employee works part-time, he does not receive the same benefits as full-time employees, if they receive benefits at all.

Will I Lose My Job

Probably the greatest fear you will have about your career after receiving your diagnosis is that you will lose your job. It is for this reason that you might feel the need to delay notifying your employer about your condition. It is important to realize that it is unlawful to be fired from your job for health reasons alone. As well, if the company that you work for is privately owned with more than 15 employees, you are entitled to rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. This states that a person cannot be fired because of health issues, and that a person is guaranteed the same treatment and benefits of that of a healthy person. With all of the inevitable worry and concerns a diagnosis of cancer brings, the issue of employment does not need to add to the stress you already feel. The important thing is to remain positive and remember that communication between you and your employer will resolve any issues that you have. This will better help you focus on what matters most: your health.
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