I am an employee and I have breast cancer
If you are employed at the time of your breast cancer diagnosis, you will need to consider:
- your employment arrangements
- your financial situation
- if you want to continue working or take time off
- how your diagnosis and treatments may affect you emotionally and physically.
I took 18 months leave from work. I wanted my hair to have grown before I went back. When I did return, I reduced my working hours to better suit me and my family.
What to do with work following your diagnosis
Deciding what to do with work after your breast cancer diagnosis is a personal decision – there is no right or wrong answer. Take time to evaluate your work and financial situation and what's going to be best for you. You can then choose to:
- continue working
- amend your working hours/days to suit your needs
- take a temporary break from work
- resign your position.
Things to consider following your diagnosis
Talk to your employer about your diagnosis. Together, you can make a plan to deal with the impact your treatment may have on you and your workplace.
If you want to make changes to your working arrangement during treatment, you may be able to:
- job share
- take periods of time off
- take extended leave.
If your work includes manual tasks, talk to your medical team about whether these aspects of your job require modification.
It is important that you understand your employment entitlements and legal responsibilities and find out about financial supports that may be available to you. For example, whether you have income protection or trauma insurance.
I returned to work one day after finishing radiotherapy. Now, looking back, I wish I had taken some time off to rest and relax.
For further information, the following resources are available:
- Download BCNA's Managing work, finances and breast cancer fact sheet for more information about work and finances.
- Download BCNA's Legal rights and responsibilities for employees fact sheet for information about workplace rights and responsibilities following a diagnosis of breast cancer.
- For information about discrimination because of your cancer contact the Australian Human Rights Commission on 1300 656 419 or visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.
- For free over-the-phone legal advice and means and merit tested legal assistance and representation visit the Legal Aid website.
- For information on dealing with finances and debt contact the National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007 or visit the National Debt Helplink website.
- For free financial counselling visit the MoneySmart website.
- For free financial counselling for those living in rural areas visit the Rural Financial Counselling Service website.
- For assistance with a functional assessment at work or a rehabilitation plan visit the Occupational Therapy Australia website.
- Visit Cancer Council's website for more information about employees, employers and workplaces dealing with cancer.
- Flinders University Work after Cancer website has further information for working during and after cancer diagnosis.