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HomeAt Home & BeyondHow to approach work after a breast cancer diagnosis

How to approach work after a breast cancer diagnosis

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A breast cancer diagnosis affects every facet of a woman’s life. While women and their families must prioritize treatment, a host of additional variables, including work, also merit consideration after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Work is an important part of life, so it is understandable if women are concerned about how a breast cancer diagnosis will affect their careers. With that in mind, women can consider these tips as they share news of their diagnosis with their employers.

• Prioritize your own comfort when speaking to an employer about your diagnosis. Breastcancer.org notes that a woman’s comfort level is the most important factor when sharing news of a breast cancer diagnosis with an employer. Some women may want to inform only a few coworkers they are close with, while others may find it easier to let everyone know. There is no wrong or right way to share a diagnosis, so women should prioritize their own comfort when choosing which way to go. To ensure things go smoothly and your wishes are honored, consider first breaking the news to a supervisor in a private face-to-face meeting or Zoom call.

• Decide what you want to share. The Australia-based Cancer Council notes that individuals must decide what they want to share regarding their diagnosis. Women can speak to their physicians to determine how long they will continue working if their ability to work full-time will be affected by treatment and the projected length of treatment. Answers to these questions can help women decide how much to share with their employers. If treatment will be lengthy and require time off to recover, then sharing such information can help employers arrange to cover your responsibilities.

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• Take additional measures to overcome the side effects of treatment. Breastcancer.org notes that treatment can produce cognitive side effects such as memory loss or difficulty concentrating. Successful professionals will undoubtedly want to maintain the standard they have established for themselves, and that can be done by taking a few simple steps to overcome any cognitive issues that may arise during treatment. Record Zoom calls so you can go back and view them, if necessary. Take copious notes during strategizing sessions. Begin using a planner so you can stay on top of deadlines. These simple measures are easy to employ and can ensure women do not miss a beat during treatment.

• Take time off, if necessary. Time off should always be a consideration during cancer treatment. Breastcancer.org notes that various programs can help women meet their financial obligations if they’re no longer earning income. Some employers may pay full salaries during treatment and not count time off as vacation or personal time, while others may grant short-term disability benefits that can provide some income during extended time off. Explore all of your options with the human resources staff at your firm.

A breast cancer diagnosis may require women to alter their work habits and schedules. Even the simplest tweaks can have a profound impact and allow women to direct much of their energy and focus on their treatment.

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