- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Making decisions about working
- Working during treatment
Working during treatment
If you are thinking about staying in your current job and working while having treatment, there are some things to consider. Cancer treatment will most likely affect your ability to do your job in some way. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to work, but you’ll probably need some flexibility to make things easier for you (see Flexible ways of working).
A change for the better
Workplaces tend to be more supportive of employees with cancer than they were in the past. One study showed that more than half of people with breast cancer who continued to work during treatment, stayed in the same job for 5 years after diagnosis. And a third were still with that same employer 9 years later. In most cases, employers want to keep their staff, so they will usually help you to keep working.
Plan with your employer
Talk to your employer about whether your current role needs to change, or if flexible working arrangements will help you manage treatment and side effects or how cancer affects you. You could set out any agreed changes in a plan (similar to a return to work plan). Let your employer know that you may need to change any plans you make as time or treatment goes on. This is because how well you feel, and your ability to work, can change over time.
Talk to your treatment team
Ask your treatment team whether they offer very early/late or weekend appointments, or chemotherapy from home, so that you can fit your treatment sessions around work. Also check with your treatment team if there are any precautions you need to take in the workplace to protect yourself and others.
Driving during treatment
Cancer and its treatment may affect your ability to drive safely. Doctors must tell patients not to drive if they are a risk to themselves or others. As a guide, most people are told not to drive on the day of treatment, or if they are feeling unwell. Certain cancers also impact your ability to drive, and your doctor will let you know if this is the case for you. Consider if being unable to drive may affect your ability to work. Before you start driving again, get your doctor’s advice.
Two days a week, I would have chemotherapy. I scheduled it at 1pm and I would work a half-day and spend the afternoon at home in bed.Sarah
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.
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