Returning to work after cancer: navigating the experience
Some 92% of women who have had breast cancer return to work. This moment is often a long-awaited one: seeing co-workers again, resuming routines that were left off, and getting back to work. These are all positive things, but women need to be realistic about this process.
- There are often some continuing side effects that complicate matters, including extreme fatigue and memory lapses. Although these symptoms fade with time, they can often be debilitating in the short or medium term.
- This phenomenon is complicated by the fact that co-workers do not always understand that the person isn’t quite the same as before. They believe that the patient has recovered, and now she can resume working as she did before.
- At times, even if the position has been held, co-workers have divided up tasks differently and it may be difficult to find your place again in this changed environment, which has learned to do without the absent worker.
- Even when all goes well, it is not uncommon for aspirations to change after this sort of illness. People may want to do something differently, take a different professional path or find a new direction in life.
For all these reasons, Institut Curie has developed a program to help patients return to work. A booklet, “Return to work,” is provided, featuring patient stories, practical information and expert advice. A tailor-made support system has also been introduced. This may take the form of individual or group workshops, based on work with a specialized coach.