I was just diagnosed with cancer. Should I keep working?

By Causenta Wellness

I was just diagnosed with cancer. Should I keep working?

When your doctor tells you that you have the “Big C,” it is natural to feel like the world is spinning. There are so many questions, and emotions run high.

You want to understand your diagnosis and cancer treatment options. You want an idea about how cancer treatment costs will impact you and your family. What is covered by insurance and what is not?

In the first days and weeks after diagnosis, many of these questions and thoughts will continue to come in and out of your mind as you process and continue conversations with your cancer care team. 

One Key Question

You are likely to ask yourself this: Now that I have cancer, should I keep working?

While there might not be a one-size-fits-all answer, Dr. Tom Incledon, Founder & CEO of Causenta, has some definite thoughts that can help you make a decision.

Dr. Tom’s Philosophy:

“I’ve been treating patients for a long time, and one of the things that frustrates me the most is when people let finances get in the way.

“Cancer treatment costs can be overwhelming, but if you know your budget, you can create an effective treatment plan that won’t break the bank.

“I also often have cancer patients who think – Oh, I’m sick, I can’t work. But, I always say to them – if you work while you can while undergoing cancer treatment in the early stages, it can help pay for treatments down the road when you might not be able to work.

“With this philosophy, you are setting yourself up for longer-term success. This way, you aren’t losing income and getting yourself in a financial hole while you are still able to get up and out of the house.”

Questions To Ask Yourself

Aside from finances, there are other practical questions to ponder on the subject of cancer diagnosis and work:

  • How important is work to you? For some people, work is just a means to a paycheck and providing for day-to-day needs. In these cases, maybe work is not that important to you. For others, you may own a business or have spent decades building a career that is central to your identity. In these cases, not working may have negative emotional and mental side effects that you should consider before making a decision about whether or not to work after a cancer diagnosis.
  • What information about your cancer treatment plan do you need in order to make an informed decision about how your cancer diagnosis will impact your job? While some of this information – how you will tolerate treatment, will the cancer treatment plan change – may not be available at the beginning of your cancer journey, there are things to take into consideration as you go.
  • Is your job flexible, allowing time for your appointments?
  • Is your job physically demanding? If so, can accommodations be made?
  • Is your insurance tied to your job?
  • Have your priorities changed?

When you can really sit back and take the time to think through these questions and even re-evaluate them as you move through the cancer treatment process, you can make the best decision for your specific situation. 

It’s All About Winning The Fight

Plus, it is not just about what we think. For Incledon, there are also scientific facts behind his reasoning to keep working after a cancer diagnosis.

“We know that if you maintain a wellness program, including regular exercise, a healthy diet, and a proper amount of sleep, your body will be healthier as you fight the cancer,” says Incledon. “That is why at Causenta, our cancer care plans include customized exercise regimens.”

Exercise recommendations at Causenta are part of our holistic cancer care philosophy and are tailored to each patient. They are developed in concert with a patient’s oncologist and other healthcare providers and the efficacy of our efforts are tested along the way. 

Staying Active Is Important

Science proves that the more active you stay, the easier it is to combat the negative side effects of chemotherapy, which is a traditional cancer treatment option.

And, the healthier you get, the better your brain and insight operate, so you can actually leverage that mental health and capacity at work and when spending valuable time with friends and family.

Being active also naturally produces endorphins and other hormones that can lift the spirits, which when you are fighting a disease like cancer can be beneficial.

Know Your Rights

If you decide to work while undergoing cancer treatment, you should know that there are safeguards in place to protect your rights under the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) and the Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) acts.

These both require employers to work with people and their families dealing with a myriad of health concerns, including cancer. Because side effects of cancer treatment are considered disabilities under the ADA, your employer must provide “reasonable accommodations” such as:

  • Allowing breaks for appointments, resting, or taking medicine
  • Finding you a new position that better fits your abilities or adjusted hours
  • Providing access to counseling

Additionally, FMLA requires that businesses allow up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period. This can be key if you need to take time off to travel for cancer treatment or want to have time at home for recovery after a procedure. 

Make Sure The Right People Are Aware Of Your Diagnosis

Sharing your diagnosis with the human resources department at your place of work can be a good first step in learning how to navigate telling others and ensuring your job and benefits – like ADA and FMLA accommodations – are protected.

It is acceptable to only tell co-workers a limited amount of information about your diagnosis and treatment plan; simply share what you are comfortable with and nothing more.

We’re Here To Answer Your Questions

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, contact us today for a 30-minute consultation. We can provide you with more information about how much a customized cancer treatment plan may cost, what impact certain cancer care strategies may have on work, and what treatment options are covered by insurance.

Please tell us everything, including potential budget concerns, you can so that we can provide you with the support you need. We want to get you back onto the path of feeling great and achieving your best possible overall health. Our goal is to help cancer patients beat this disease and get back to life.


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