Work and Employment

Work and Employment

Returning to Work

While studies show that most survivors are able to return to work after cancer, it can be difficult because of physical or emotional issues related to treatment, problems with insurance and a variety of other reasons.

Finding a new job after cancer

Many cancer patients stop working at some point during treatment. Once treatment is completed, some survivors experience challenges when looking for a new job or reentering the job market.

What you can do: If you’re concerned about explaining a gap in work history, try a resume format that focuses on experience and achievements or lists projects completed with employers rather than time spent at a job.

Returning to the same job

Contact your human resources department or your supervisor to discuss the details about your return to help you prepare. Ask about scheduling options to help you transition successfully back to work, including:
  • Part-time hours to start
  • Flex time that allows leave for medical appointments
  • Job sharing on important projects until you’re ready for full-time work

Challenges in the workplace

While most employers treat cancer survivors fairly and legally, some experience barriers when returning to the workplace or starting a new job after treatment. Ask your human resources department for guidance.

Physical demands at work

As a cancer survivor, you might have physical discomforts, including fatigue, pain, cognitive problems or other side-effects that make doing your jog challenging.

Things to consider:

  • Take small breaks to keep your energy up throughout the workday.
  • Use lists and alarms to remember important meetings or tasks.
  • Discuss concerns with your manager.
  • Take it slow.

Social adjustments at work

The familiar routine of work can provide a welcome relief and distraction. Your job can also give you a sense of purpose and provide a fulfilling social environment.

Social connections at work can be an important part of the healing process. While most colleagues will likely be supportive, others might respond awkwardly or with uncertainty.  

Remember, as a cancer survivor, it’s your decision how much to share with your co-workers about your journey.