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Survivors Returning to work / staying at work 6. Identify and foster workplace supports

6. Identify and foster workplace supports

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”.

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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.

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Step 6 of 10 in getting ready to return to work:

Keeping in touch with your work managers and colleagues can be helpful to ensure you have a supportive workplace when you return to work. Ongoing and early discussions about going back to work can give your employer reason to keep your job for you and can give enough time to your employer to arrange for job accommodations you may need. See the section on key questions to guide a return to work plan.

Sometimes cancer survivors may have concerns about disclosing their cancer and may benefit from considering how much, to whom, and how they might want to share these details. For helpful information related to disclosure see: Who gets to know: How to exercise your power of “disclosure”

Part of a successful return to work is to assess whether your workplace is ready for your return and if they have the support you need. This information can be gathered by exploring with your employer or workplace representatives (such as union representatives, human resource professionals, occupational health specialist, disability managers, or return to work coordinators) the type of support available such as work accommodation (for example, a graduated return to work, flexible hours, working from home, etc.) For ideas on what to ask, see our section Inquire about return to work practices and policies at the workplace.

Next step:

Step 7: Contribute to the development of your return to work plan

Back to the list of return to work preparation steps