- Question from Kate: My concern is how am I going to return and fit in at work? My career was on the move before my diagnosis, and I am afraid that now I will be passed up for promotion because I am a health risk.
- Answers - Patricia A. Ganz, M.D. You have raised a very important question that is, "What are your rights as a cancer survivor?" Fortunately, there is federal legislation in the Americans With Disabilities Act that protects individuals with a cancer history against discrimination in the work place. Although you may have had to cut back on some of your work activities while you were getting treatment, this cannot be used as a way to discriminate against you in terms of opportunities and promotion. Most of the time, this can be dealt with informally in the workplace by talking to your employer and making your employer know you are aware of your rights as a cancer survivor. Occasionally, it may be necessary to resort to litigation if one is discriminated against in the workplace. A good resource for information about this is the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, which has detailed information to help individuals who may be facing job discrimination.
- Marisa Weiss, M.D. Many bosses are taking their cue from you. They may have no idea how your diagnosis will affect you and your work. Communication here is very important. If you can prepare your immediate coworkers for what to expect, then it's less likely that they will be disappointed with unmet expectations. If you are asked to do extra work, you can be up front and say, "I'd love to help out with this extra project. Now is not the best time for me to help out in this way like I usually do, but I expect that when I am feeling better, I will once again feel up to taking on that challenge." It's also a good idea to keep a journal of your work, your progress, and your assignments, as well as comments that people make about your work. In the future, if you need documentation about your accomplishments and the 'drifts' at work, then you have something to support yourself. Avoiding confrontation but sticking up for what you know is right is a good approach.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Quality of Life featured Patricia A. Ganz, M.D., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about how breast cancer can affect physical, emotional, social, and sexual aspects of your life.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2001.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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