For some, continuing to work during treatment isn't possible. However, for others it may be possible. You may find that continuing to work keeps a normalcy to your routine that may provide a strong sense of support and purpose during this time.
I remember talking with a patient a few weeks ago during a class and he mentioned how important it was to keep working, even with a modified schedule, because work gave him energy, purpose and a source of self-assurance.
He also mentioned that his work team was like family to him and so it was an important piece of his treatment and recovery to stay in touch with them.
You may find that coworkers are very supportive, finding ways to keep your spirits positive as you continue to recover.
The most important factor is to find a balance between work and life during this important time of healing. Discuss with your care provider the option of continuing to work. Be realistic about energy levels and anticipate that you may have more fatigue during this time.
Ask for reduced hours if you need it. As you complete treatment, slowly work back up to more hours only when you're ready. Be honest with your manager and coworkers so that they know what to expect.
If you're unable to work during treatment, ask for a medical leave of absence and keep the lines of communication open with your manager as much as possible. If you'd like to stay in touch with your colleagues at work, you may want to set up a Caring Bridge website in order give updates and share information.
Resources you may find helpful as you manage work and life during cancer treatment include Cancer and Careers (cancerandcareers.org) and the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (canceradvocacy.org).
--Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.