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Will cancer treatment affect one's ability to work? (Part 1)


Last week on our blog, we took a look at Kissimmee cancer patients' eligibility for federal benefits. Because disability benefits are generally linked to the applicant's ability (or inability) to work, we'll spend some time this week trying to answer the question: what kind of an impact can cancer treatment be expected to have on a patient's ability to work? The discussion should be understood as general information, and not specific legal advice.

The answer will vary greatly depending factors including what kind of job the patient has, as well as the stage of the cancer and the kind of treatment prescribed. Ultimately, a patient should follow the doctor's advice as to whether continuing to work during treatment is advisable, or whether activities should be more strictly limited. For those who can work during treatment, there are a number of strategies that may help maintain a balance.

One such strategy is to schedule chemo sessions in the evenings or, if possible, right before a weekend. This will allow time to rest at home and recover before showing back up at work. Working from home can also be beneficial if work allows it. And speaking of home, calling upon friends and family or even hiring help with cleaning and chores can help patients from wearing themselves out before having to return to work.

It's also important to carefully track the hours normally worked and the tasks normally done on the job, in case it becomes necessary to work a reduced schedule or take more time off. This will help the employer avoid disruptions, but such documentation will also help patients protect themselves from discrimination based on their illness. And patients should understand that federal laws do protect many cancer patients on the job.

Sometimes, however, continuing to work during cancer treatment becomes impossible, or perhaps a doctor recommends that the patient further reduce activity or even pursue more intensive treatment. We'll talk about what happens when cancer treatment leads to an inability to work in a follow-up post.

Source: American Cancer Society, "Working During Cancer Treatment," accessed on Nov. 4, 2017

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