How to handle work during cancer treatment

December 06, 2017 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

One of the most common concerns patients have before starting their cancer treatment is whether or not they will be able to continue working. Going through treatment can be challenging both physically and emotionally. Add work to the equation and it can be even more daunting — but not impossible.

Understanding your diagnosis, treatment plan and the side effects you may experience can help you make decisions about work. You should take into consideration the type of work you do, your family’s financial needs, and how much support you’ll have.

Have a discussion with your family and your doctor about how you will handle work during treatment. Your doctor may be able to schedule your appointments around your work schedule, and give you strategies for how to deal with additional stress.

If you feel well enough to continue to work:

  • Stick to a daily routine. It can help you maintain a sense of normalcy.
  • Make goals for yourself and try to stick to them, but don’t push yourself too hard.
  • Try to maintain as healthy a lifestyle as possible. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can increase your energy and strength, and help you get through, and recover more quickly from, treatment.
  • Build a support network. Join a support group — in person or online — to stay motivated and connected as you go through treatment.
  • Take detailed notes during meetings and keep a calendar to track when projects are due, as well as your work days and days off. This is helpful if you find difficult to concentrate or remember things during cancer treatment.

You also want to discuss with your employer any special accommodations you may need. Under federal and state laws, some employers may be required to let you work a flexible schedule to meet your treatment needs. You can also:

  • Explore options like working from home some days. A flexible schedule may help you balance your work around times you feel less tired, and allow you to take care of yourself more easily.
  • If you’re comfortable with it, let your coworkers know about your situation and that it's okay to talk about it. They can be a great resource for support. They may even be able to help come up with ways for you to manage your work.
  • Keep your supervisor up-to-date on how well your schedule or other changes are working for you.

Asking for help at home can also give you more energy while you are at work. Close family members and friends may be able to help with running errands and making meals. Whether you decide to take some time off or continue to work, take care of yourself first and choose what is best for you and your family.

How do you maintain a balanced life? Tell us in the below comments.

Related blogs:

How to stay nourished during cancer treatment

Why and how to stay active during treatment


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