Employment options

Learn about your different employment options, such as:

Working during treatment

Cancer treatment will most likely affect your ability to do your job in some way. This doesn’t mean you will be unable to do your job, but you will probably need some flexibility to make work easier.

Discuss with your employer whether your current role needs to be modified or if flexible working arrangements will help you manage your treatment and side effects. Consider setting out any agreed changes in a plan (similar to a return to work plan).

Ask your treatment team whether they offer very early or late appointments, appointments on weekends, or chemotherapy from home, so that you can fit your treatment sessions around your work. Also check with your treatment team if there are any precautions you need to take in the workplace to protect others.

Cancer and its treatment may affect your ability to drive safely. Doctors have a duty to advise patients not to drive if they are a risk to themselves or others. If you are unable to drive, this may affect your ability to work. Before you start driving again, seek your doctor’s advice.

See Coping with side effects for some tips on managing some common side effects of treatment or Going back to work after cancer treatment.

Taking time off

Some people find working during treatment and recovery difficult and decide to take a break. They may make this decision straightaway or after returning to work and finding it too physically and emotionally difficult.

Discuss your leave options with your employer. You can use paid leave entitlements or ask for unpaid time off. If you decide to take time off, you may want to set up a system for staying in touch with your employer so you know what is happening at work. If you decide to take extended leave, speak to your manager or human resources department. Let them know you would like to return to work when your health improves.

Check your insurance

If you have disability or income protection insurance, you may be able to receive a portion of your income while you are unable to work. You might have taken out a separate policy, or it may be attached to your superannuation or provided by your employer. If you are thinking of resigning from your job, check your insurance coverage first, because leaving work may affect your entitlements. See Cancer and your finances for more detailed information about financial, insurance and superannuation issues.


Some people give up work completely when they are diagnosed with cancer. This might be the right choice for you if you are already close to retirement or if the cancer is advanced.

It is natural to have mixed feelings about retirement. How you feel may depend on your age and your plans before the cancer diagnosis. Some people feel a sense of loss and others worry they’ll be bored.

You may find it helps to talk about these responses with your friends and family, hospital social worker, spiritual leader or counsellor, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.

Most people take time to adjust to retirement. Making plans for dealing with the impact on your sense of self, finances and relationships can make the change easier. Some people find it helpful to get involved with volunteer work as part of moving into retirement.

For more on this, see Emotions and cancer and listen to our podcast on Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis.

      — Christine

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on cancer, work and you

Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4059


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit: http://www.kobo.com/help/koboaura/response/?id=3784&type=3

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit: https://au.readerstore.sony.com/apps_and_devices/

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200767340&qid=1395967989&sr=1-1
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200375630

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in November 2019
View who reviewed this content
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Cancer information

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Common reactions to a cancer diagnosis and how to find hope

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