Sarah Cannon - June 06, 2017

Choosing to work or take time off during your cancer treatment is a personal decision. Whichever choice you make, it is important to know what you can expect during your cancer journey.

Jennifer Gournay, lung cancer nurse navigator at Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at St. David's HealthCare, shares tips to help you decide what is best for you and your career while you undergo cancer treatment.

Female Patient And Nurse Have Consultation In Hospital Room

  1. Understand your treatment plan and the frequency of treatments.  Ask your oncologist how the side effects of chemotherapy and/or radiation may affect your ability to work.
    • Consider your ability to work full time during treatment or if you will need to reduce your hours or take a leave of absence
    • You may want to consider waiting until after your first cycle of chemotherapy before making a decision about working, reducing your hours or taking a leave of absence
  2. If you're having surgery, ask your surgeon:
    • How long you will be in the hospital
    • What restrictions will you have after surgery and for how long
    • When you will be able to return to work
  3. Read your company's policies about different leave programs, i.e. sick time off, FMLA, short-term disability, long-term disability & how to access time-off donation pools.
  4. Review your health care benefits, optional supplemental disability insurance & cancer policies.
  5. Speak with your human resources department about the type of leave you are seeking. Inquire about options for alternative work schedules (flexible scheduling, working from home).
  6. Continue these discussions with your oncologist and your healthcare team during and after your cancer treatment to assist you in making the best decisions about your ability to work or taking a leave of absence.