How to discuss a cancer diagnosis with your employer
It ’ s not uncommon for people to experience a range of emotions upon being diagnosed with cancer . Fear , sadness and even confusion are just a few of the feelings people may experience after receiving a cancer diagnosis . Eventually , those emotions tend to settle down , even if the questions about living with cancer are just beginning .
Once the initial emotional whirlwind calms , adults recently diagnosed with cancer may wonder how to go about their daily lives . That includes what to do about work . Sharing a cancer diagnosis with anyone can be difficult , and some people may be nervous about revealing a diagnosis to their employer . Fears about how employers will react and the ramifications treatment could have on their careers may concern cancer patients . In recognition of that difficulty , the Cancer Treatment Centers of America offer these suggestions about sharing a cancer diagnosis with an employer .
• Be direct with your boss . The CTCA recommends cancer patients find a private setting to share their diagnosis with their bosses directly . Bosses should not have to hear the news through a secondhand source like social media or a coworker . Speaking to your boss directly can open lines of communication regarding expectations and how to confront the challenges that could arise down the road .
• Work with your human resources department . Human resources professionals can help cancer patients learn about programs the company may offer and the resources at their disposal as they navigate this sudden change in their lives . HR professionals also can offer insight into how the company has dealt with cancer diagnoses in the past , including information on flexible working arrangements , such as reduced hours or remote working options .
• Discuss how to share the news . Once your boss and HR department has been notified , seek their input regarding how to break the news to your colleagues . If you routinely work with people across multiple departments , it may be best to inform everyone through email , as it can be exhausting to break the news to each colleague individually . But it ’ s also alright if you prefer to keep the diagnosis under wraps . In the latter case , it might still be wise to inform those you work with closely each day , as that can help them prepare for increased responsibilities as your treatment progresses and potentially makes it hard for you to continue working fulltime . When discussing how to share the news with an HR department , be specific about how much you want to share , as you may only feel comfortable discussing details of your diagnosis with certain coworkers , such as your boss .
• Be willing to accept help . It ’ s easy for cancer patients to feel like they ’ re suddenly seen as charity cases upon sharing their diagnosis with an employer and their colleagues . But offers to help come from a good place , and patients would likely offer to help if the shoe was on the other foot and a colleague revealed a cancer diagnosis . It ’ s alright to tell people willing to help that you ’ ll let them know if you need anything if and when a difficult situation arises . In the meantime , thank them for their kindness and prepare to lighten your professional load as treatment begins .
Sharing a cancer diagnosis with an employer and professional colleagues can be challenging . But working directly with a boss and HR professional can ensure the process goes smoothly .
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