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Survivors Need Support in the Workplace

06 June, 2022

When Deborah found a lump in her breast and was diagnosed with cancer her life turned upside-down almost overnight.

“I had a full-time job, was teaching a course for HR professionals, and working on obtaining my master’s degree. It all stopped in a matter of days as I became a patient and tried to learn everything I could about my treatment and what to expect,” she said.

Her experience isn’t unique. People diagnosed with cancer can face many challenges in maintaining their professional life during treatment. Time previously spent working can be instead spent recovering from surgery, sitting in a chemo chair or at radiation appointments.

Caregivers can also feel the strain on their professional lives, striving to balance caring for a loved one, managing their own stress, and keeping up with work.

There are resources to help. Cancer + Careers is a nonprofit that has information for people who’ve just been diagnosed (and their caregivers) on how to handle work, staying organized, getting back to work after an absence, and what their legal and financial rights are.

The site also has resources for coworkers, managers, and human resources professionals to learn how to better support their colleagues with cancer.  

Many people who are in treatment for cancer are not just concerned about their treatment – they’re worried about staying insured, having financial support, and loss of income.

Having a paid leave policy for those who’ve been diagnosed with cancer or for caregivers, and creating a flexible work schedule, can help many people to reduce stress and anxiety during what’s likely to be one of the most stressful and scary times in their lives.

Read Deborah’s full story here.  Find more workplace resources here.

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