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The Economic Impact of Cancer:
Addressing Workplace Dynamics

The increase in cancer survival rates

With the remarkable progress in diagnosis, early detection, and treatment, cancer survival rates have a heartening rise. This positive trend brings hope and enables more patients to resume work or maintain their professional roles while undergoing treatment. Still, navigating the path back to work can pose challenges. Cancer survivors may encounter physical and psycho-social difficulties, leading to feelings of isolation. Some hurdles might be less apparent, such as persistent fatigue linked to Cancer or cognitive issues like concentration lapses (often referred to as ‘chemo brain’). Emotional distress, another common patient concern, underscores the importance of holistic support during this journey. (The Economist Intelligence Unit, 2017).

Why is it essential to address Cancer in the workplace?

Discussing your Cancer, especially in a workplace context, can pose challenges. Concerns about redundancy or discrimination might arise. Therefore, initiating a conversation with your employer serves multiple purposes. It allows them to make supportive changes during your treatment, from work adjustments to leave options and sick pay details.

Before implementing adjustments, your employer might consult a medical professional with your permission to ensure optimal support.

Consider involving your line manager, HR manager, or trade union in these discussions. Your well-being matters and these conversations can lead to valuable support. (NHS inform, 2023)

Why is it essential to address Cancer in the workplace?

Unfortunately, Cancer carries the highest impact on work among chronic conditions. Studies reveal that the likelihood of job loss rises by 1.4 times following a cancer diagnosis. Your well-being matters and we at Platinum Life are here to support you through this challenging time.

It is essential to realise that each cancer case is unique. Everyone responds differently to illness and work dynamics; your experience matters. (Rosàs, et al., 2020).

Exploring & dealing with the diverse mental states
patients might experience on their cancer journey

Despair

Feelings experienced by employees

How employers should respond

Unfortunately, Cancer carries the highest impact on work among chronic conditions. Studies reveal that the likelihood of job loss rises by 1.4 times following a cancer diagnosis. Your well-being matters and we at Platinum Life are here to support you through this challenging time.

It is essential to realise that each cancer case is unique. Everyone responds differently to illness and work dynamics; your experience matters. (Rosàs, et al., 2020).

Temporary uncomfortable period, but life goes on

Feelings experienced by employees

How employers should respond

In such situations, your employees may benefit from practical assistance for their return to work, such as adjusted hours or modified tasks. When Cancer is seen as an episode, a swift recovery might lead to a seamless return. Maintaining a businesslike tone while checking their well-being and avoiding probing personal feelings. Consider planning reasonable adjustments proactively if feasible. Your support matters in facilitating their transition.

Meaningful period

Feelings experienced by employees

How employers should respond

Offer a platform for discussing their illness and return-to-work choices. Show empathy toward potential changes in their future plans. Recommend maintaining open communication. Understand that some employees might choose not to work due to circumstances, and their decisions should be honoured. Your support is valued in these deliberations.

(Rosàs, et al., 2020)

Cancer in the workplace not only places the employee under immense pressure but also on their employer, more particularly their line management and colleagues. Discussing a cancer diagnosis is a uniquely sensitive experience of its own. The terms of communication are highly dependent on the employee’s openness and should be handled in a way that provides a win-win dynamic for all involved. The employee will experience overwhelming feelings to which the employer should respond professionally and respectfully.

References

NHS inform. (2023, April 12). Work and Cancer. Retrieved from NHS inform: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/cancer/practical-issues/work-and-cancer

Rosàs, C., Geluykens, W., Karlen-Oszlai, E., Blanco, C., Papageorgiou, A., Leal, M., . . . Meesen, A. (2020). HOW TO MANAGE CANCER AT WORK. Retrieved from Cancer.eu: https://www.cancer.eu/wp-content/uploads/ECL_Cancer-at-Work_Handbook-for-Employers_2020_digital.pdf

The Economist Intelligence Unit. (2017, February). Cancer in the workplace. Retrieved from Cancer Survivorship: https://cancersurvivorship.eiu.com/briefing-paper/

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