8 Things to Do When Breast Cancer Threatens Your Job

Breast cancer can affect every aspect of your life in a myriad of ways, especially your career. Staying on top of your work expectations while dealing with the side effects of treatment like chemotherapy can be incredibly difficult. While much depends on the work you do and the types of medical care you need, there are ways to make sure you are protecting your career while you undergo treatment and recovery. Here are eight things you can do when you fear that breast cancer may be threatening your job.

8. Know Your Employee Rights and Benefits

Once you’ve received your diagnosis, look into your employee rights and benefits, which can be found in your employee handbook. Also, research your workplace rights in the Americans with Disabilities Act from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. These outline your rights to receive reasonable accommodation during your illness, from permission to work at home to increased breaks. If you have a working knowledge of what you’re allowed, you’ll know what you’re entitled to if those rights ever be questioned.

7. Think Before Disclosing Your Condition

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If you need leave from work for cancer treatment, you can request it without disclosing your specific medical reason via the Family and Medical Leave Act. Going public with your diagnosis both at work and online — like on social media — can lead to unexpected consequences, which could potentially include poor performance reviews. How much information you choose to disclose is a personal decision, though your employer may struggle to make the appropriate accommodations if they don’t know about your diagnosis.

6. Don’t Underestimate Yourself

Don’t assume right away that you won’t be able to work. Depending on what stage of cancer you’ve been diagnosed and the type of treatment you’re undergoing, you may be able to continue working through it. There are, of course, the financial and insurance benefits that come with working. But also, from a psychological and emotional standpoint, having steady employment can provide a sense of control and fulfillment to those going through treatment.

5. Get a Doctor’s Note

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In order to get reasonable accommodations at work — especially if you haven’t shared the extent of your diagnosis or you’re not showing the effects of treatment — get a doctor’s note. This allows you to get the necessary amount of breaks, time off your feet, or other accommodations you might require.

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