When patients get diagnosed with cancer, they quickly find that their entire lives change. It is not just the effects of the cancer or the treatments that cause the change. Cancer has a way of affecting a person’s perspectives on life and priorities overall. In addition, the experience goes far beyond the patient, affecting spouses and other family members.


Since 2018, Beacon Clinic has specialized in supporting cancer patients as they go through these life changes, helping them develop comprehensive treatment plans and cope with many of the health and financial issues that may arise during this time.


As these changes develop, one question that many cancer patients have is whether they will be able to continue their employment while undergoing treatment. This is a significant concern. Not only do many people derive satisfaction from their careers, but they may be worried about retaining employer-provided health insurance and being able to earn the money needed to cover their medical bills. 


Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. While some people can continue working while undergoing cancer treatment, it will often depend upon the type and stage of cancer, the method and effectiveness of the cancer treatments, the patient’s overall health and how they are reacting to treatments, and other factors. On the positive side, many employers are willing to make adjustments for employees with medical conditions, including cancer.


Using a Supportive Oncology Center 


If you are interested in working while receiving treatment, Beacon Clinic can help. Not only can our financial counselors help you understand your insurance and coverage options, but our other supportive services can play a part in helping you make the best decision for yourself so that you are relieved of unnecessary stress and worry.


When working with you to develop a treatment plan, we will explain the options available to you and their competing pros and cons. We can discuss which ones have the highest success rate for people in a comparable situation, how long treatments will take, what physical changes you can expect, and the types of responses and reactions patients commonly experience. Part of evaluating your treatments is discussing your priorities. If continuing to work is one of them, that will factor into your decision regarding treatment.


We can also discuss what accommodations you may be able to seek from your employer. Some patients can switch to part-time work and still retain their benefits. Depending on the job – for example, if it requires strenuous physical work or unusual hours or involves exposure to harmful chemicals or environments, you may have to make significant adjustments in your workload, schedule, or work tasks. We will review your treatment schedule and how that can fit into your work schedule. You can look into your company’s medical leave policies and those provided by employment law and determine if a particular accommodation suits you. 


In addition to these considerations, there are other things Beacon Clinic can do to support your interest in continuing employment. While cancer treatments can affect your stamina, energy levels, and appearance, we can help you maintain mental and physical health through supplemental support. For example, with nutritional support, we can assist in ensuring that you fare as best as possible under the circumstances. We support your caregivers to ensure they understand your challenges and can provide the mental and emotional support you need to keep striving. 


People with low-stress office jobs or who have flexible schedules or work from home often find that they can manage to work while receiving cancer treatment. However, you also have to be prepared for the possibility that continuing to work may not be viable. Unfortunately, many cancer treatments can cause fatigue, nausea, or other effects that are incompatible with maintaining a job’s demands, especially if your job requires that you provide services to others where these effects can endanger them. The stress of work can also have detrimental effects on your health, inhibiting the effectiveness of a cancer treatment. Taking medical leave or seeking a leave of absence from your job may be wiser.


Informing Supervisors and Colleagues About a Cancer Diagnosis 


For many people, cancer is a very personal thing, and it can be uncomfortable to have to tell your co-workers about a cancer diagnosis. However, your employer must know the situation if you intend to continue working. At a minimum, once you have had time to digest the diagnosis and have information about your condition and treatment, you should set aside time to discuss the next steps with your HR department and supervisor. These discussions are confidential, and you can control who in your company knows your challenges. Chances are, however, that colleagues will be sympathetic, supportive, and helpful. It is beneficial to present a plan; your employer will appreciate your efforts to ensure that your job responsibilities will be adequately covered during your treatment.


Whatever your ultimate decision regarding work, prioritize your well-being and recovery. For help and support, please schedule an appointment with Beacon Clinic to find out how we can help you navigate your cancer journey at home and work.