Supporting individuals who want to work whilst having cancer treatment

Being given a diagnosis of cancer can have a devastating effect on that person and their family. Once the diagnosis has been accepted, many people like to try and keep as much normality in their life as possible, and in some cases want to remain at work if they can.

Treatment for cancer will vary depending on the type, extent and stage of the cancer that they have. Treatment includes surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy or a combination of all three. The different treatments can be given for varying lengths of time and affects each individual differently. The physical aspects of a cancer diagnosis and treatment can include pain, nausea, vomiting, severe fatigue, hair loss and joint aches and pains, and mentally some individuals can feel low, depressed or anxious.

Many treatments can last up to one year or more, and over that period of time the symptoms that an individual experiences are likely to fluctuate. There may be times when an individual feels well enough to work, but other times when they don’t. As treatment progresses, the tiredness can get significantly worse, therefore at the start of treatment, an individual may be able to manage most of their usual work, however, as treatment progresses some adjustments may allow the individual to continue working in some capacity if they want to and if the organisation can accommodate some adjustments.

Whether or not an individual remains at work, even in a reduced capacity, is a joint decision that needs to be made taking into account both the individual’s and organisation’s needs. This can be done by utilising an occupational health service to conduct an occupational health assessment. The individual’s wishes and health status will be taken into account, as well as an understanding on what the organisation can accommodate in terms of adjustments. Types of adjustments could include reduced hours, reduced number of working days or working from home. As the individual’s health status is likely to change throughout treatment, a regular occupational health assessment will identify appropriate adjustments at different stages of treatment.

If you want to discuss types of adjustments that you could offer for your employees who are currently undergoing cancer treatment or any other health condition, please call us now.

On January 9, 2015, posted in: Occupational Health Posts by