People affected by cancer share their stories.
I went into work after the doctor told me I had cancer and talked to my boss, who said he’d do anything to stand by me. I was very lucky in that regard.
I took sick leave to have surgery to remove part of my bowel. When I was well enough to have chemo, I worked part-time from home when I felt up to it.
Overall, I worked this way for nine months during my treatment and recovery. Once chemo was finished, I went back to work full-time. By then, the office had moved from near my home to the city, which meant I had a longer distance to travel each day. I don’t know how I did it all, but I did.
I didn’t have as much responsibility when I first went back, but I didn’t care at the time because I just wanted to recover from my illness. There have been lots of changes at work, but now I’m back in the same role I had before I had cancer.
I’ve been employed with a Commonwealth Government department since 1995.
When I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, I told my boss I’d be taking extended time off and wrapped up some work before taking six weeks of sick leave.
My employer connected me with a workplace rehabilitation consultant, who helped create a return to work plan for me. The consultant spoke to my doctors and manager and determined my working hours and tasks.
Because I was having several months of chemotherapy, I started working from home for four hours once a week.
Over a year, my hours increased and I worked at home and in the office. If I worked more time than planned, my employer would re-credit my sick leave.
Having a written plan was a safety net for me. Each month I would forecast the amount of work I thought I could handle. When I felt I should be working more or was anxious about people’s expectations, I knew I could stick to the approved plan and return at my own pace.
Being back to full-time work is a juggling act because I’m still fatigued and have a lot of appointments, including for my clinical trial. I also have work- related stress – I’ve lost some corporate knowledge because I was out of the loop for a year.
I’m enjoying being back at work. I know I’m very lucky to have a supportive employer.
I hope employees know that they can ask for support from their employer – especially a written return to work plan. The support from my employer helped me to keep engaged and get back to work when I was able.
Podcast for people affected by cancer