Language / La langue: 
Mobility impairment

Dr. Christine Maheu, RN, PhD

Dr. Christine Maheu is an Associate Professor in the Ingram School of Nursing, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University. Dr. Maheu is also an Affiliate Scientist at the University Health Network and the University of Toronto. At McGill University, she teaches research methods, supervises graduate students (masters, doctoral, post-doctoral), mentors practicing nurses and students in research, and conducts research in English and French. She has held research awards with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. These awards funded her research in psychosocial oncology, which focuses on developing and testing psychosocial interventions or measurements tools for various cancer populations. Additionally, in partnership with Ipsos Canada and funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, she is co-leading a nationwide survey of the needs of cancer patients for transition care from the end of their treatment to three years after their diagnosis. Dr. Maheu received awards for excellence in nursing research (2013, 2015, 2016) from Ovarian Cancer Canada, the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology, and the Quebec Association of Nurses in Oncology.

View all Cancer and Work team members

Ms. Rosemary Cashman

Ms. Rosemary Cashman is a nurse practitioner at the BC Cancer Agency and an Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of British Columbia. Her professional experience includes the care of lymphoma, lung cancer and brain cancer patients. She co-chairs the Patient and Family Advisory Council, which guides the brain tumour care program at the BC Cancer Agency. She has authored book chapters and articles related to the care of brain tumour patients and their families. Ms. Cashman was involved in developing and implementing a rapid-access radiotherapy clinic for the palliative treatment of lung cancer and she continues to work in this clinic.

View all advisory board members and expert writers

Kyla Johnson, Occupational Therapist, Segal Cancer Centre, Jewish General Hospital

Ms. Kyla Johnson, M.Sc.A., originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Kyla Johnson works as an Occupational Therapist at the Segal Cancer Center of the Jewish General Hospital. She holds a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from McGill University. Her goal as a rehabilitation professional in Oncology is to enable people with cancer to be able to do what they want and need to do, in all stages of their cancer experience. Kyla helps develop strategies and accommodations to facilitate a return to meaningful life roles, including work. She is specialized in cancer-related cognitive dysfunction and runs a weekly group teaching strategies to improve daily cognitive functioning. Kyla also leads a volunteer yoga class for young adults with cancer. She lives in Montreal, Quebec.

View all advisory board members and expert writers

Ms. Maureen Parkinson, Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor, M.Ed. C.C.R.C, BC Cancer

Ms. Maureen Parkinson is the province-wide vocational rehabilitation counsellor at the BC Cancer Agency. She has also been vocational rehabilitation counsellor at a public rehabilitation hospital and vocational rehabilitation consultant to insurance companies and the court system. She has instructed and facilitated Service-Canada-funded programs on job searching and career exploration. Ms. Parkinson has a Masters in Counselling Psychology, is a Canadian Certified Rehabilitation Counsellor, and completed the Certified Return to Work Coordinator Program through the National Institute for Disability Management and Research. She has developed return-to-work and job-search seminars for cancer patients and created the guidebook “Cancer and Returning to Work: A Practical Guide for Cancer Patients” as well as on-line articles about returning to work and school. She also co-authored a paper commissioned by the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, “Cancer and Work: A Canadian Perspective”.

View all Cancer and Work team members

Cancer and cancer treatments may have effects on multiple systems and organs. The neurological system, the muscles and the bones are particularly vulnerable. Problems with limb weakness and loss, gait disturbance, imbalance and other problems affecting normal walking are common in 25%–35% of cancer patients. Fatigue and visual changes may add to the challenges of mobility. Mobility impairments that existed before cancer may be more affected by the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

Vocational implications

It is important to consider whether your current condition would create challenges with your commute to and from work or with the performance of your work responsibilities that require standing, walking, climbing, etc. Consider also if you are likely to see an improvement or decline in your condition over time.

What you can do

Your healthcare team can provide valuable advice to you about what to expect regarding your mobility, and this can help you make decisions about work. A rehabilitation specialist can work with you to improve your strength and offer recommendations about assistive devices to ensure safe mobility. Good nutrition, adequate rest and appropriate exercise will contribute to your overall well-being, too.

Exercise tips to help improve physical function

For a recent 2015 review on exercise guidelines for cancer survivors, consult Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s Physical Activity & Exercise Benefits Cancer Patients and Survivors.

From this website, see also an article on exercise tips to improve your fitness and get ready for work by Daniel Santa Mina, PhD, RKin; Scientist, ELLICSR: Health, Wellness & Cancer Survivorship Centre Assistant Professor, Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, University of Toronto.

Job accommodations

Modify your work tasks and how you work:

  • Wear well-fitting, supportive footwear with a closed heel and rubber sole.
  • Work in a standing position? Sit down when you’re able: Use a stand-lean chair if possible; if not, keep a rest chair nearby.
  • Work from home if possible.
  • Other mobility aids may also be helpful in managing mobility when you have foot pain. Assessment by a local therapist (physical therapist, occupational therapist) may be best to help you find an appropriate mobility aid.

Modify your work environment:

  • Ask for parking close to your work entrance.
  • Relocate your workstation closer to the washroom, break room or other frequently used space.


Changes in physical appearance

Back to the list of common cancer treatment side effects