Feature Archive

Earning a Living

About 1 in 4 cancer survivors experience some form of employment discrimination. Learn how to handle returning to work here.

WebMD Feature

What You Can Expect

Many cancer survivors wonder whether having a cancer history will make a difference in their job prospects. Common questions include: Will I be able to return to work? Take time off for more treatment if I need it? Work as hard as I once did? Advance in my career?

There is no one answer to these questions. Some people choose not to go back to their jobs while others are not physically able to return. But most work-able cancer survivors do return to work. Sometimes it takes a year or more before survivors are ready to return full-time, but once they go back, they almost always are back to stay. Cancer survivors have included professional and Olympic athletes, business executives, artists and musicians, film stars, and world leaders.

When cancer survivors return to work, some have highly supportive employers who help ease the change from patient back to employee. Others get back to the routine without much help from their company or organization. And at some workplaces, wrong ideas and false fears about cancer cause job-related problems that survivors must overcome.

The following stories reflect the workplace experiences of cancer survivors.

"After I had my colostomy, my employer asked me to quit my job because the cancer was upsetting my fellow workers. He said a demotion or transfer was possible if I didn't agree. Except for my wife, that job was my whole world. So rather than quit, I decided to fight for it. "-Jon H.