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Working and Cancer

Working with cancer or having a colleague diagnosed with cancer can impact the workplace. Whether you’re the patient, supervisor, or co-worker, it is important to recognize every person’s situation is different and be mindful of a few things.

  • If you’re the patient, communicate with your supervisors and human resources department on ways to make working during treatment a better, less stressful experience.
  • Find the right support group or talk with someone who has been through a similar experience. Hearing from someone else can help provide you with insights and the hope to make it through this difficult time.
  • Be honest with yourself. Don’t be afraid to admit you may need help when you’re feeling sick.
  • Familiarize yourself with your employer’s policies to reduce stress and help you plan ahead.
  • Share your news when you feel ready.
  • Know your feelings — anger, grief, anxiety, loneliness — are normal and may carry over into the workplace.
  • Communicate regularly and openly with your manager as treatment may make you sick, tired, or both and unable to work.
  • Evaluate what you can and can’t do. Be willing to let go of things that aren't essential and engage others early to avoid overloading yourself.

If you’re a student:

  • Discuss your treatment plans with your advisor or the Dean of Students.
  • Talk to your professors about keeping current with lectures or extensions to complete assignments.
  • Consider whether taking time off is the best option for you and your situation.