Cancer & Work
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8. Monitor your progress

Step 8 of 9 in getting ready to return to work:

A big part of successfully returning to work is to develop a monitoring plan that attempts to anticipate challenges and gives you opportunities to address these challenges as they arise. Returning to work is a process, and your plan may need to change along the way to help you be successful over the long term.

Part of a monitoring plan is to have a(n):

  • Description of workdays and hours per day that the employee will be expected to complete;
  • Description of how (and by whom) and how often an employee’s progress will be monitored, recorded and shared and how modifications to return to work and accommodation plans will be made;
  • Indication of how work hours and work tasks will gradually be increased and the anticipated schedule for increasing work hours and resumption of tasks.

Once you are back at work, you may struggle more than you expected. You may need to adjust your return to work plan. It can be helpful to schedule regular meetings with your employer to discuss how you are coping with your job demands.

During these regular meetings with your employer, it will be important to review your last week’s performance. Make sure to also discuss your successes as well as your challenges for that week. This discussion will help you and your supervisor to address any issues and concerns right away. If you are struggling at work, then discuss ways to address these challenges or review possible job accommodations that would allow you to keep working. At this time, you may choose to discuss the support you are receiving from your team members and if there are any concerns.

Each time you meet with your employer or manager is also an ideal time to review the next steps detailed in your return to work plan to make sure you are progressing as expected. If you feel you are not improving, it is important to let all stakeholders (employer, human resources, insurance case managers, etc.) know you are experiencing difficulties and that you may need to discuss with your healthcare team having your work abilities re-assessed.

You can also use this time to inform the employer of any upcoming medical appointments (especially if you are in treatment) as a reminder. This is also the time to provide your employer with updated medical information if your limitations and restrictions have changed.

It is important to update your doctor about any challenges you may have at work and about symptoms you may be experiencing from your cancer. Keeping your doctor updated will help you get your return to work plan changed if needed. Your doctor’s report may also be essential if you are receiving long-term disability from an insurance company and need to continue this funding.

If you struggle with challenges that are difficult to resolve, this might be the time to seek advice from vocational and rehabilitation specialists, and other health professionals. Getting their expert opinions on your situation not only helps you meet your needs and stay at work, but it may help your employer.1

Next step:

Step 9: Manage expectations at your workplace

Back to the list of return to work preparation steps