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HomeHealth & FitnessAdvanced Breast Cancer: How It Can Affect Your Work

Advanced Breast Cancer: How It Can Affect Your Work

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A diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer does not mean You suffer from stop working. But when you don’t care about work, you may find it easier to manage whatever your condition brings.

There is no right or wrong answer. This is a personal choice and depends on many factors. Here’s what to consider when making your decision, and how to make it work if you decide to keep working.

working or not working

“Many people with advanced breast cancer can still comfortably work and maintain a home, even with regular appointments and sometimes ongoing outpatient visits The same goes for intravenous therapy,” said Dr. Rebecca Crane-Okada, director of the Cancer Navigation and Willow Sage Health Program at the Margie Petersen Breast Center at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

Working can help you feel grounded and productive. This can be a great distraction, and it can give you a sense of empowerment when you feel like other parts of your life are out of your control. However, if, despite your treatment and symptoms, your work feels like too much to manage, you may decide to take a break or not return to work.

share or not share

Who you tell and how much you share is up to you.

Telling your boss might help. If your manager knows what’s going on, they may be able to help by extending deadlines, changing meeting times, or letting you work from home. We can all make plans together.

If you need regular breaks or flexible work arrangements and other work arrangements, you must share some information with HR. Your human resources department and supervisor are required by law to keep your medical information confidential. But they may have to tell their managers.

may have the benefit of sharing with colleagues. They can be a source of emotional support and help you manage work better.

Marlena Murphy, 45, with metastatic breast cancer , an advocate at Turning Point Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta, Georgia, decided to share her cancer diagnosis at work so she could balance work and treatment.

“The main thing for me is to communicate with the people I work with directly, Regarding treatment and medical appointment dates,” Murphy said.

Sharing with colleagues can have drawbacks. They may ask you questions about your health and treatment. You may receive unwanted medical advice or opinions. They don’t need to share anything you share with them.

How to Find Balance

How you feel and manage at work can change from day to day.

Some days you may feel energized, as if you could handle anything. On other days, you may feel tired or struggle with symptoms such as fatigue, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and muscle or bone pain. Try to let your body be your guide.

When you feel tired, take a break. If your job is physically demanding or if you are on your feet a lot, you may need to take regular breaks. Changes like moving your desk closer to the bathroom or working from home can help you find your balance.

Getting help at work

You have a lot to do to make your job easier while managing advanced breast cancer.

For example, if you are in treatment, ask your Whether the boss can arrange his own time. Shifting your working hours to a more energetic and productive time of day may help.

Consider the following adjustments:


  • Flexible working hours
  • Regular breaks throughout the day
  • Remote work

    Shorter schedule

    If you need to extend your vacation time , you may need to use sick leave.

    If you are going back to work after being away for a while, ask Ask your boss if you can easily get back to work with fewer or fewer workdays. Ask your colleagues to keep you up to date on anything you missed, such as a new system or program that started while you were away.

    Know your rights

    You may be entitled to multiple Types of support. Here are some things to research:

    Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

    This requires your employer to make adjustments, such as reduced hours, modified work schedules, or Reassign vacancies. It also protects you from discrimination, so you get the same consideration as if you didn’t have cancer.

    Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This requires your employer to give you up to 12 unpaid leave for a working week. You can also use it if you are a caregiver for a spouse, child or parent with a serious medical condition.

    Employee Assistance Program. These programs provide help with personal issues that may affect your ability to work. For example, they may help you with financial and emotional issues.

    Disability Policy. If advanced breast cancer keeps you from working, you may be eligible for short-term or long-term disability coverage . These policies may give you 40%-70% of your base salary. Short term disability may be around 3-6 months. Long-term disability begins after short-term disability ends.

    Discuss your eligibility with your HR representative and how to start the process.

    © 2023 WebMD, LLC. all rights reserved.

    Photo credit: SDI Productions / Getty Images


    Rebecca Crane-Okada, PhD, RN, CNS, AOCN.

    Melanie Gore, CHyp.

    Marlena Murphy, TurningPoint Breast Cancer Rehab.

    Cleveland Clinic: “Metastatic Breast Cancer and Your Career .”

    Living Beyond Breast Cancer: “Metastatic Breast Cancer and work-life balance.”

    Young Survival Coalition: “Cancer and your career.”



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