Diagnosed With Cancer, How to Handle It at Work?

Life is in pits, you have been just diagnosed with cancer, here are few ways to handle it at work.

Cancer is a severe and life-threatening disease. It can lead to a lot of changes in your life and does hinder with your work too. If you have been diagnosed with cancer, you should inform your company about the same. Doing so is not required just from the moral perspective, but considering the risk of the disease, your company would like to know your medical history — and if need be, take emergency precautions.

Unlike temporary treatments, cancer is a long-term disease that requires lifestyle alterations, extreme care and also a lot of support from your loved ones. Along with compassion, one can also expect financial support from the company — especially if they have health plans.

Understand your situation

Before you approach the manager or your supervisor, it is important that you understand the intensity of your disease. You have to know what stage of cancer you are suffering from, what kind of treatment is expected, expenditures, and also how much time off work you would require. Once you have a gist of all this ready, you should approach your manager. Do make sure that you are aware of the company policy in case of such diseases. You should also make sure that you know your rights. There should be no discrepancy against you because of an illness.

Talking to your manager/ supervisor

When you approach your manager or your supervisor, be honest with them. Explain your situation to the manager and a few details of the disease. They should know an approximate period that you would be off work. And if you want to work remotely or part-time, your manager is likely to guide you through the next steps.

He/ she could discuss your case with the HR and take the next course of action. What kind of health plans are available with the company, how much paid leave can you get, if there are any special benefits available, etc. Your manager would potentially also discuss distributing your work amongst your colleagues till you resume. Some companies even offer support in other forms like colleagues helping you out a the hospital or during chemo.

There is a chance that some employers would take this opportunity to discriminate or use the disease against you. So make sure that you have evidence that you had disclosed the required information to your company.

Priortize Accordingly

Considering the seriousness of this disease, you must prioritize your health first. While discussing the case with your manager or senior, tell them the same that you would like to continue working until your health permits. For some, the distraction of work is good enough to keep the thoughts and fear at bay. If needed, do take a little extra time off — even if your paid leave or office medical leave is not covering the same. Sometimes, all you need to do is sit back and get some extra rest. If your colleagues and workplace are aware of your situation, they would sympathise and help you out through this tough period.

Getting back to work post-therapy is also going to be stressful for you physically and mentally. If required, do ask your colleagues for support and help. Some individuals may feel weak and could even faint. So, when going to the washroom, take a colleague along. Avoid added stress and share with them — because sometimes, this support would help you go a long way.

Jappreet Sethi

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Jappreet Sethi
Jappreet Sethi, CEO and founder of HexGn, stands out as a strategic human resource management and entrepreneurial mentorship expert. Under his leadership, HexGn, known for its dynamic community of serial entrepreneurs and industry experts, has trained over 5000 entrepreneurs from 20+ countries, reinforcing its global impact in entrepreneurial education. Sethi’s extensive experience includes strategic government projects, developing e-commerce strategies, and authoring white papers on technology in internal security. His international workshops have spanned 15 countries, aiding participants and clients in raising investments. His tenure as head of People and Process Consulting at Jones Lang LaSalle India and his role on JLL's global Diversity board reflect his deep understanding of organizational dynamics and transformative change. A certified facilitator with an impressive track record in leadership development, Sethi’s expertise in process management is evident in his achievements as a Six Sigma Black Belt and master lean practitioner. He’s also a visiting faculty member at leading institutes, a prominent speaker, and the founder and lead editor of the acclaimed HR blog, humanresourcesblog.in. Recognized as a top HR influencer, Sethi's unique blend of strategic HR expertise, global mentorship, and organizational transformation insight makes him an invaluable asset in guiding companies through growth and innovation.


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