- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Making decisions about working
- Taking time off and retirement
Taking time off and retirement
Some people may take time off work or decide to retire after a cancer diagnosis.
Learn more about:
Taking time off
Some people find it difficult to work when they have cancer, or during treatment and recovery, and decide to take a break. Sometimes they decide straightaway, other times they may work for a while but then find it too physically or emotionally difficult to continue.
Discuss your leave options with your employer. You may want to use paid leave or ask for unpaid time off (learn more about leave entitlements). 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 take extended leave, speak to your manager or HR department. Let them know that you would like to return to work when your health improves.
Some people stop work completely when they are diagnosed with cancer. You may feel that this is the right choice for you. It’s natural to have mixed feelings about retirement. How you feel may depend on your age, and what plans you had before the cancer diagnosis. Some people feel a sense of loss and others worry they’ll be bored. It may help to talk about it with friends, family, a hospital social worker, spiritual leader, work EAP or other counsellor, or call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
Most people take time to adjust to retirement. Making plans for dealing with how it affects your sense of self, finances and relationships can make the change easier. Centrelink has financial information support officers and aged care support officers, who may help. Some people find it helpful to do volunteer work as part of moving into retirement.
For more on this, see Emotions and cancer or listen to the podcast below.
Podcast: Coping with a Cancer Diagnosis
Brooke Russell, Principal Occupational Therapist, WA Cancer Occupational Therapy, WA; Bianca Alessi, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council SA; Dr Prunella Blinman, Medical Oncologist, Concord Cancer Centre, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, NSW; James Chirgwin, Physiotherapist, The Wesley Hospital, QLD; Danielle Curnoe, Consumer; Simon Gates, Barrister, Tasmanian Bar, TAS; Justin Hargreaves, Medical Oncology Nurse Practitioner, Bendigo Health Cancer Centre, VIC; Kaylene Jacques, Director, People and Communications, Cancer Council NSW; Alex Kelly, Senior People Attraction Advisor, Human Resources, Allianz Australia Insurance, NSW; Legal reviewer; Georgina Lohse, Social Worker, GV Health, VIC; Lesley McQuire, Consumer, Cancer Voices NSW.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.