Health tipsNovember 2016

Easing cancer survivors back into the work force

You’ve waged a tough battle against cancer—and you’ve won. Congratulations! But what happens now that you’re ready to go back to work?

For cancer survivors, the return to employment can be especially difficult, due to the effects of the disease and its treatment. Also, many employers may not fully understand cancer’s impact on one’s ability to work, or how to properly accommodate the survivor in the workplace. Healthcare providers have stated that a need exists for guidance on assessing a survivor’s readiness to return to work.

Now a major step has been taken to meet those needs: Cancer and Work is a new, interactive website that provides survivors with practical, up-to-date information on returning to work, including the support offered by various provinces and territories.

“Cancer often affects people in the prime of their careers,” says Dr. Christine Maheu, an Associate Member of the Segal Cancer Centre at the JGH, and Associate Professor at McGill University’s Ingram School of Nursing.

For this reason, Cancer and Work shares the knowledge and experience of a far-reaching group of Canadian experts, including healthcare professionals in oncology, vocational rehabilitation counsellors, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, nurses, lawyers, psychologists, union representatives, insurance representatives and cancer survivors.

“Our website is unique, as we created it with cancer survivors for cancer survivors,” explains Dr. Maheu, a Co-Principal Investigator on the website, which is a collaboration between McGill University and the BC Cancer Agency (a provincial healthcare provider), in partnership with the de Souza Institute.

The website’s home page offers visitors a choice of three main sections that are geared to cancer survivors, healthcare providers and employers. Many subject headings are common to all three sections, but the sub-headings contain information that has been customized for the various types of visitors.

Among the main subject headings:

  • cancer’s impact on work
  • assessing work abilities
  • the communication and teamwork of returning to work
  • workplace well-being
  • law, policy and practice
  • changing jobs and looking for work
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