Working While You Have Ovarian Cancer

Working While You Have Ovarian Cancer

working in the office

Receiving an ovarian cancer diagnosis reshapes your life, and decisions about continuing to work are brought front and center. As you start treatment, consider the role of work in your life as a personal and practical choice. Here are some things to consider. 

Deciding If You Can Work During Treatment 

Your ability to work while undergoing chemotherapy is unique to you. Chemotherapy affects individuals differently, with varying levels of fatigue and side effects. According to experts, many women manage to sustain their work commitments during treatment, with some continuing full-time schedules and others adjusting to 50 to 75 percent of their pre-diagnosis hours. 

Financial responsibilities, fear of job loss, and the desire to maintain a sense of normalcy motivate some women to continue working during treatment. For those contemplating a break from work but worrying about financial strain, exploring disability insurance options becomes vital to the conversation with a medical social worker. 

Know Your Workplace Rights 

Understanding your rights as an employee with ovarian cancer is crucial. The Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) offer protection and provisions for those facing job-related challenges due to severe illnesses. Engage with your human resources department or workplace expert to explore these options tailored to your situation. 

In specific scenarios, employers must accommodate employees with disabilities, ensuring an equitable work environment. Familiarize yourself with the resources available through the Job Accommodation Network to explore how workplace adjustments can enhance your experience. 

The Empowerment of Returning to Work 

For some women, continuing to work amid ovarian cancer treatment is a choice rooted in personal identity and the enjoyment they get from their roles. If your health allows, working during treatment may not only offer financial stability but also reaffirm your identity beyond the realm of cancer. 

Maintaining connections with colleagues and friends at work can be a source of comfort, countering the potential isolation that cancer may bring. Regular interaction with others can contribute to a sense of normalcy and support. 

Be ready to have a conversation with your employer about your situation. Gauge your comfort level in sharing information about your health and discuss potential adjustments to your work schedule. Flexibility is necessary, acknowledging the fluctuating energy levels during different phases of the chemotherapy cycle. 

Working while managing ovarian cancer involves thoughtful conversations, understanding your rights, and recognizing the value of work in your life. Your journey is unique, and empowering choices contribute to a sense of control and well-being amid your challenges.

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