If you are in the workforce when diagnosed with breast cancer, it is also important to understand how it will affect this aspect of your life. The decision whether or not to continue to work full or part-time is an individual one. Many people feel they need to take time off to focus 100% on themselves in order to get healthy again. Others do not have the financial stability to leave their jobs, or feel that they could benefit from the sense of accomplishment or distraction from cancer that their jobs provide them with. Whatever your decision, it can be emotionally troubling. You may feel exhausted and stressed if you need to work despite not wanting to. You may feel that you have lost your way if you have left a job you enjoyed. These are all normal reactions.
If you are working throughout your treatment, it is important to consider telling some people about your diagnosis. Under no circumstances do you need to tell everyone, but it may be helpful to let a few coworkers know. They may be able to help with projects or deadlines when you have appointments or if you are too sick to go to work.
It is important to tell your employer or supervisor. Though you may be capable of working during treatment, it will take a toll on you. Your productivity may be reduced, and you will have to miss work for appointments and treatments. You may also experience what is often referred to as “cancer related brain fog” or thinking and memory problems commonly experienced by breast cancer survivors. Because of this you may need to write more notes or reminders for yourself, ask people to repeat themselves more often, organize your work space more efficiently, and give yourself more time to complete tasks.
There are also resources which may prove helpful in dealing with returning to the workforce, you can find many of these at www.cancerandwork.ca.