Step 9 of 9 in getting ready to return to work:
Manage expectations at your workplace
- Be prepared: After a while, others at work will forget that you are not at full capacity.
- They may know other people who have had cancer and expect the same recovery or attitude.
It is helpful to have clear guidelines in a return to work plan laid out by your doctor or healthcare professional. Refer to these guidelines as needed. Remind colleagues that your experience and recovery from cancer and treatment may be quite different from that of others.
If you are experiencing fatigue, pain or cognitive problems, these symptoms tend to be invisible and hard for others to imagine or accept. It can be helpful to consider yourself an educator about cancer and its invisible effects. See our section on Cancer’s impact on work and strategies for information. For now, you need to remind yourself that others may not be able to understand clearly what you are going through because they have not been in your situation. But do not let this lack of understanding of your conditions stop you from communicating your needs so that you can come back to work in the best possible way.
In some instances, you may experience or sense that your colleagues feel some resentment towards you. Maybe they have done your work while you were away, or they may have had their job changed or modified to accommodate your needs. Adapting to change is often hard for people.
It might be helpful to ask your manager, human resources professional or union representative to speak to your colleagues and/or the team as a whole about the following issues:
- Identify the shifts in responsibility that have occurred.
- Provide a time frame for how long these changes will last.
- Highlight the need for accommodation as not only legally required but as a desirable part of a caring workplace culture.
- Emphasize that tolerance and cooperation within a workplace will benefit others in the future should they be faced with their own health or disability challenges.