I’ve been employed with a Commonwealth Government department since 1995.
In 2009, 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 doctorsand 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.