Ovarian Cancer Home > Continuing With Life While Battling Ovarian Cancer

Can I Still Work While Going Through Treatment?

A number of factors play a role in whether you can work during cancer treatment. Some of these factors include:
  • Your overall health
  • The kind of work you do
  • The stage of your ovarian cancer
  • The type of treatment you are getting.
It will also depend on how you respond to treatment. If your cancer treatment leaves you sick and extremely tired, you may need to limit how much work you do. Trying to find a balance between being effective at work and not running yourself into the ground may be a tough juggling act for many women. Try to stay realistic about what you can do, or you may start to become disheartened if you can't seem to physically keep up with what you wished you could do.
However, it is possible to work while you are undergoing cancer treatment. If and when you feel comfortable, talk to your employer or human resources manager about your situation. Although you may not want to go into great detail about where you are with your illness, sharing with them when you may need to schedule medical appointments and take time off can help you to all come to an agreement that will work for everyone.
You may also look into the federal and state laws (Americans With Disabilities Act and Family and Medical Leave Act), as some employers may be required to allow you to work with a flexible schedule to meet your treatment needs.
When trying to figure out how to juggle treatment and your work schedule, there are a number of things to consider, such as:
  • Is it possible to do some or all of your work from home?
  • Schedule your chemotherapy treatments as late in the afternoon as possible or right before the weekend so you have time to recover before returning to work.
  • Find someone to help with menial chores at home, such as someone who can come scrub the bathrooms and floors once a week. This can help you save some time and extra energy.
  • If you feel comfortable talking to coworkers, they may be a great source of support and may help you come up with ways to manage your work more effectively.
  • Keep the communication with your employer open, letting him or her know how your work schedule is going and whether any changes need to be made.
Because the stress of cancer treatment can be so overwhelming, continuing with work can help you get your mind off treatment for a while. It can also help you to feel productive and keep you active in doing things other than worrying about how your treatment is working.
(Click How Do I Tell My Family and Friends I Have Ovarian Cancer? for more information on when and how to talk to your employer and coworkers.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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