Receiving a cancer diagnosis is never convenient, especially when you find yourself juggling treatments and a career you love. Taking time off work for cancer treatment might seem impossible; after all, you need your health insurance and income as well as that promotion you’ve been working hard for. But you may feel like you can’t even think about work duties while trying to cope with your treatment plan.
Chances are, you’re conflicted: you either keep up with work so you have something else besides cancer to think about or focus all of your attention on your treatments and at home. Whatever you choose is OK. Thankfully, taking time off work for cancer treatment is easier thanks to technology. You can walk a fine line between remaining engaged at work while staying healthy.
Develop a Plan
If you know you’ll need time away, set a meeting with your supervisor and human resources contact. Get all the information you need about Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) benefits, deadlines and necessary paperwork. Resist the urge to feel overwhelmed during the meeting, opting instead to take notes on dates and information. Then bring the information home, giving responsibility for FMLA paperwork to a trusted family member or friend to take the lead on. If you’re still feeling confused, try talking to your oncologist’s office, as your team has dealt with similar situations.
Under FMLA, your employers are required to give you 12 weeks of unpaid (but job-protected and with your health benefits) leave each year. Once you have your FMLA taken care of and your oncologist’s treatment plan set, talk with your supervisor and colleagues to develop a flexible strategy that includes how much you would like to be involved. During your time, also determine who will run point on your projects or within your department while you’re undergoing treatment. This person will be responsible for the day-to-day of your tasks, but will also be your teammate, checking in with you on big decisions and being your point of contact while you’re away.
Stay in the Loop
Email and shared online calendars or project boards make it easy to stay in the loop of your office news. If possible, set up a weekly call for the same time and day of the week so you can hear what’s going on in your department and brainstorm or troubleshoot any situations. You can also set your emails to alert senders you’re out of the office, but you can still be as active as you would like on sending or reading correspondence. Dial in to staff meetings when able, and even pay a visit to your coworkers if you’re having a good day. It’ll be a morale boost for your team and for you.
Make the Most of Your Time Away
If you feel up to it, you can spend some of your time away from the office working on additional opportunities. Take an extra online course, or finally get that certification you have been putting off. Look into freelance or part-time, temp work. When your body is up for the task of online education, it’s a chance to feel productive or fulfilled. Finally, you may not feel well enough for networking or alumni events. Have a trusted friend bring your business card to these shindigs to pass out, while also collecting names for you to email or connect with on LinkedIn.
Healing your body is the number one priority during this time, but you may find that your job keeps you grounded and upbeat.
Financial assistance is available to you if you need to take extended time away from work. Talk to your treatment team about the options available to you.Learn More