10 Ways to Avoid Job Stress When You Have Cancer
When you're undergoing cancer treatment, you might be tempted to take a leave of absence from your job. But continuing to work can be good for your mental health, according to Melanie Whetzel, a senior consultant on the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Disability Employment Policy's Job Accommodation Network's (JAN) cognitive/neurological team.
The Pros of Working When You Have Cancer
Distraction. "Many individuals with cancer report that work has helped to keep their minds on other things while in the middle of a very serious and frightening experience," Whetzel explains.
Support. The workplace can also provide a safe place to receive social and emotional support from colleagues.
Financial Support. Working provides a steady income to help pay for some of the incurring medical expenses.
The Cons of Working When You Have Cancer
Fatigue. "Probably some of the biggest obstacles we hear about from cancer patients who are trying to work are the fatigue and the ill-effects that treatment can cause," says Whetzel.
Treatments. "Some of the treatments themselves may limit an individual's ability to concentrate, remember, and multi-task.
Cognitive impairment. Mental fog, or chemo brain as it's sometimes called, can be a very real and often a debilitating result of treatment.
10 Ways to Dial Down Work Stress When You Have Cancer
Whetzel says it's important to remember that working while you're sick doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Here are 10 ways to navigate your workday and dial down stress:
1. Negotiate a flexible schedule so you can leave the office for doctor's appointments and treatment sessions.
2. Ask your employer to allow you to work from home on days when you aren't feeling well. If you plan ahead you can access your files remotely so you can stay connected even if you're stuck in bed.
3. Work part-time while you're feeling ill or coping with treatment side effects.
4. Divide large tasks into smaller assignments that will feel less overwhelming.
5. Communicate your situation to your co-workers so they understand that things may change from day to day.
6. Ask your employer for help with job restructuring to reallocate or redistribute marginal job functions and help reduce stress.
7. Utilize memory aids, including organizers, cue cards, tape recorders, checklists, and anything else that can help you remember important information.
8. Rely on a scooter or other mobility device if your job requires strenuous walking throughout the day and you don't feel up to the task.
9. Request changes to your work environment, such as fewer distractions, a change in air temperature or light, or a more comfortable work station to help ease your discomfort.
10. Schedule periodic breaks to clear your head and help you stay productive.
How to Ask Your Boss for Help
"Employers who have processes in place for promoting open communication and handling of accommodation requests will have the most success in assisting individuals with cancer be effective in their jobs," Whetzel says.
To learn more about how to effectively talk to your employer and request any accommodations you require, visit the JAN website, chat live with an advisor through the JAN website, or call JAN's helpline at 800-526-7234.
Melanie Whetzel reviewed this article.
Accommodation and Compliance Series: Employees with Cancer. JAN. Accessed online, Dec. 11, 2013. http://askjan.org/media/Cancer.html
Melanie Whetzel, Job Accommodation Network (JAN), U.S. Department of Labor's Office of
Disability Employment Policy. Email interview, Dec. 9, 2013. http://askjan.org/
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Ice Falls Can Cause Serious Injuries
- 2. Can Inactivity Act Like a Disease?
- 3. Kale Snack Recipe for Diabetics
- 4. How Running Affects Arthritis
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.