The number of people living with and beyond cancer is growing and people are now living with cancer in different ways.
The effect a cancer diagnosis and treatment will have on a person and their ability to work will vary widely. It will depend on the type of cancer, its stage (the size of the tumour and whether it has spread), any symptoms the cancer might be causing, the cancer treatment and side effects, and how the person copes when faced with a traumatic situation.
Some people welcome work as a way of helping them to feel ‘normal’ and in control. Carrying on with or returning to work can help some people emotionally while they’re waiting for a diagnosis, having treatment, or caring for someone with cancer. For others, working is a financial necessity and they can’t afford to be away from work for long.
Some people give up their jobs because their cancer is advanced or the symptoms make it impossible to work. Side effects of treatment leave some people unable to work. Others may resign because their self-esteem or confidence has been damaged. Carers may need to reduce their hours or give up work to care for someone with cancer.
As a manager, you may be one of your employee’s most important sources of support.
You don’t need to be a medical expert, but a basic understanding of cancer and its treatment can help you in that role. This knowledge will also help you to plan for and recognise issues that may emerge at work.