You are the world’s leading authority on your life and work. When mapping a plan for working through treatment, it’s important to marry your expertise with that of various members of your healthcare team. Below are three work-related topics to discuss with your team:
- The importance of your work. Doctors oversee the “big picture” of treatment and prescribe the best approaches to get you from diagnosis to remission. As the person who oversees your “big picture” work goals, don’t be afraid to speak up! Ask about ways your specific surgery and protocols might be adjusted so it’s easier for you to continue working. For example, if your oncologist says “Come for chemo on Tuesday,” but you have an important deadline that day, ask if there’s a medical reason for that particular appointment time or if you can choose another day that’s more convenient for you.
- Specific details of your workday. Nurses have considerable firsthand experience helping people manage the day-to-day realities of life during treatment — and are often more readily available for conversations than doctors are. Share the details of your workweek, such as your commute, job responsibilities, work environment, etc. Your care providers can help identify tasks that may become challenging and suggest approaches for maintaining comfort at work.
- Interpersonal relationships at your job. Social workers are experts in thinking through the ins and outs of how people relate. They can help you determine ways to frame conversations you anticipate having with bosses, coworkers, etc. Spend time discussing the individual personalities of the people whom you work with, the quirks and “politics” in your workplace, as well as your feelings about discussing your cancer at your job. From there, develop short “scripts” so you’re prepared for various conversations before they occur.
The Cancer and Careers Living and Working with Cancer Workbook includes an entire section devoted to questions to ask your healthcare team about your treatment and work. You can order or download a free copy of the workbook here, or you can download and print the individual lists of questions here.
If you are a healthcare professional, be sure to download and print our checklist: Questions to Ask Your Patients About Work & Cancer.