Step 9 of 10 in getting ready to return to work:
For some cancer survivors, there may be permanent changes in their functional abilities and for others, the recovery may take time. Encouraging survivors to realistically view their work ability over time and have this communicated to their employer (as part of the return to work plan) and to colleagues may prevent undue pressure that can come with unrealistic expectations.
You can help the survivor manage their own expectations and those of their supervisor by providing clear guidelines for restrictions, limitations, and a graduated return to work. The survivor can refer to these guidelines as needed. If they are experiencing fatigue, pain, or cognitive problems, these tend to be invisible and harder for others to imagine or accept.
You may want to encourage the cancer survivor to read our tips for communicating with people in their workplace to help deal with co-workers’ reactions).
To help cancer survivors balance work and other roles they may have, discuss what supports the family can provide. When survivors return to work, they may not be as available or able to do as many household duties because of fatigue and time spent at work. Healthcare providers can encourage families to discuss how everyone can share household duties in light of the expected fatigue that comes from losing work conditioning while off work. As well, survivors who are unable to drive may need their family’s help getting to work.