Should i continue working with metastatic breast cancer


Many people continue to work after a metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. Sometimes it’s out of financial necessity, loyalty to a job, or simply a desire for normalcy. However, it can be a challenge to balance the demands of work with the physical and emotional toll of living with metastatic breast cancer.

Many people diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer continue working throughout treatment. Whether you plan to keep working because you want to (or need to for financial stability or employer-based health insurance), you have rights in the workplace.


Is metastatic breast cancer serious?

Metastatic breast cancer is serious, but the diagnosis does not always mean the end of life. The most common place for breast cancer to spread is to the bones. The liver and the lungs are other areas where breast cancer can metastasize. In about 15% of cases, metastatic breast cancer can be detected at the time of diagnosis.

How does metastatic breast cancer affect young women’s careers?

Young women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) may face unique challenges when it comes to work, especially if they’re just getting started in their careers. For some women, the effect is minimal as their boss may agree to a flexible schedule.

Can I work during cancer treatment?

Whether you can work during cancer treatment depends on: Talk to your health care provider about your plans to work or not work. Your health care provider will best be able to advise you on your specific treatment plan and possible side effects that might affect your ability to work.

What happens when metastatic breast cancer stops responding to treatment?

When metastatic breast cancer stops responding to treatment, the focus may shift to end-of-life care. The symptoms of metastatic breast cancer are different to those of early-stage breast cancer. This is because the cancer has spread to other organs and is affecting other body systems, as well as the affected breast.


Can you still go to work with breast cancer?

Some people continue to work, sometimes with reduced hours, and others give up work temporarily or permanently. Whether you feel able to work while going through breast cancer treatment will depend on: The type of breast cancer you have and whether it has spread. The treatment you’re having and side effects.

Can you still work with Stage 4 cancer?

You might work as much as possible or take a leave of absence and return later. There are benefits to working even when you have cancer. Going to work can help you feel more normal, and remind you that life goes on. Work can also provide important financial support, including health insurance benefits.

Can you live a normal life with metastatic breast cancer?

No one would say that living with metastatic breast cancer is easy. It can be treated, but it cannot be cured. However, many people with metastatic breast cancer can live long lives with excellent quality of life. More and more women and men are living with breast cancer as a chronic disease.

How long do you need off work with breast cancer?

Interpretation. Most of the women with breast cancer took time off work (almost 6 months on average) after receiving the diagnosis.

Can you work with metastatic breast cancer?

Many people diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer continue working throughout treatment. Whether you plan to keep working because you want to (or need to for financial stability or employer-based health insurance), you have rights in the workplace.

Does breast cancer count as a disability?

Social Security disability benefits are an option for women who are diagnosed with breast cancer and need help. Because of the prevalence of breast cancer in the US, the Social Security Administration (SSA) lists breast cancer as a disabling condition and a potentially qualifying disability.

Can you live 30 years with metastatic breast cancer?

Many women live for decades with metastatic breast cancer. According to a 2017 article in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, 34 percent of women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer have been living with the disease for five years or longer.

What causes death in metastatic breast cancer?

The most common cause of death was metastatic disease to various organs, accounting for 42% of all deaths. Infection was the second most common cause of death; however, only 27% of the patients with infection had significant neutropenia. In patients dying of hemorrhage, only 9% were thrombocytopenic.

Can metastatic breast cancer go into remission?

Metastatic breast cancer may never go away completely. But treatment can control its spread. Cancer may even go into remission at some points. This means you have fewer signs and symptoms of cancer.

Does metastatic breast cancer qualify for disability?

Individuals diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer automatically qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) as long as they apply and meet the SSA’s technical qualification rules.

Are you classed as disabled with cancer?

The Equality Act considers a diagnosis of cancer as a disability. You don’t have to have symptoms or consider yourself disabled by your cancer to be covered.

What are my rights at work if I have cancer?

What are my rights? If you have or have had cancer, you are protected by law from unfair treatment at work. This means that it’s unlawful for an employer to treat you less favorably (discriminate against you) because of your cancer. Under equalities law your employer should try to support you.

How long can you live with Stage 4 cancer?

Although the overall prognosis may be poor based on cases with previous patients and older treatments, many patients with stage 4 cancer can live for years.

Is Stage 4 cancer always terminal?

Stage 4 cancer is not always terminal. It is usually advanced and requires more aggressive treatment. Terminal cancer refers to cancer that is not curable and eventually results in death. Some may refer to it as end stage cancer.

Is Stage 4 cancer serious?

Stage IV. This stage means that the cancer has spread to other organs or parts of the body. It may be also called advanced or metastatic cancer.

Can you be in remission from Stage 4 cancer?

A cure where the cancer is totally eradicated and will never return is rare at stage 4. However, remission, where symptoms are reduced or gone for a time, is possible.

What to do when you have MBC?

When you have MBC, optimizing your work life means calling on people outside your 9-to-5 world. Speech therapists can help with “chemo brain,” nutritionists can show you how to boost your energy level, and an occupational therapist may be able to modify your workplace setup. And don’t forget a massage therapist to get the kinks out of your neck after staring at a screen all day. If you’re not sure who to tap, start with a hospital social worker, who will tell you what’s available and make sure insurers cover it.

What is the tough truth about MBC?

The tough truth about MBC treatment: Your immune system takes a hit. That means you’re vulnerable to bugs running around that healthy people aren’t affected by. Lomax, a self-described social butterfly, wound up catching pneumonia while Stanley has had several colds. “I have to be very careful in the office environment being around people,” she says. “If I’m sick, I stay home. If someone else is sick, I either send them home or I’m very careful with washing my hands.” She lets employees know that their work ethic is appreciated, but their germs are not.

How many women with metastatic breast cancer keep working?

In fact, 44% of women with metastatic breast cancer (MBC) keep working after their diagnosis, according to a study in the journal Cancer. “It allows them to live the life they were intending to live,” says Jane Kakkis, M.D, medical director of breast surgery at Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, CA.

What did Kirsten Stanley do when she found out she had cancer?

When Kirsten Stanley found out that her breast cancer had metastasized to her liver and lymph nodes, her response wasn’t to call her boss and turn in her office keys. Instead, she doubled down and worked harder. “I didn’t want cancer to be the reason I left my career,” says the 43-year-old director of operations at a skin care company in …

Is working from home a perk?

The ability to work from home is a major perk of modern technology. If your job allows for it, talk with your company’s HR department about the possibility—even just one or two days a week can make life a lot easier when you’re running to and from doctor appointments.

How long can you live with metastatic breast cancer?

Many people live for months or years after a healthcare professional has diagnosed metastatic breast cancer. Treatment can help a person live longer and slow down the progression of the cancer. As a person with metastatic breast cancer approaches the end of life, their treatment approach might shift to palliative care.

What is metastatic breast cancer?

Metastatic breast cancer occurs when the cancer spreads from the breast to another part of the body. Symptoms and treatment for this stage of breast cancer are different to those of the earlier stages.

Why is it so hard to eat after breast cancer?

A dry mouth and throat, changes in taste and smell, and a decreased need for calories can make it difficult for a person to eat. Nausea and constipation may also diminish the appetite. Weight loss: People with metastatic breast cancer can lose weight for several reasons.

How to help a cancer patient who is not eating?

Caregivers may become upset or concerned when a person with cancer does not eat. However, they should try to understand that it may be difficult or impossible for the person to eat or drink when they feel ill, are exhausted, or have no appetite. Try ice chips to keep the mouth moist.

What are the symptoms of cancer?

Emotional changes: Coping with the end of life can cause depression, anxiety, mood swings, stress, and a variety of emotions. All these symptoms are normal as the cancer progresses. End-of-life treatment focuses on providing relief from these symptoms and improving quality of life.

Where does breast cancer spread?

Metastatic breast cancer most commonly spreads to the bones. Symptoms of bone metastasis include:

How to help a person with cancer?

To help, a caregiver can: Help them out of bed. Help the person get up, if they are able to, every 1–2 hours. If they are unable to do this, help them turn in bed to keep them comfortable and avoid bed sores.

1. Tell your employer

For some, sharing the news with their employer is the most stressful first step.

2. Ask for what you need

No matter how strong you are while undergoing metastatic breast cancer treatment, there’s a limit to human capabilities.

3. Prepare for absences due to treatment

Even if you’re feeling strong and your metastatic breast cancer is well-maintained, there may be times when you need to take a few days – or longer – off.

4. Consult with your healthcare team

Metastatic breast cancer treatments can change over time. It’s important to tell your doctor that you’re continuing to work. Other information to include:


Member comments are lightly edited for length and to remove identifying information but are otherwise reproduced as they appear in the community as part of public posts.

What can my insurance company answer about my coverage?

Your health insurer can answer questions about your coverage and any deductibles you may have to pay. If you’re insured through a plan you bought through the Affordable Care Act, keep up your premium payments to make sure your coverage continues.

Is it a job protection to be on disability?

When you’re out on disability leave, whether it’s short-term through an employer or long-term on a private plan or through the government, your job isn’t guaranteed. “Unless the company has a policy in place that says they will hold your job for X amount of time, being out on disability leave is not about job protection,” Nellis says. “It’s about income replacement.”

Can you ask if you are not covered by the ADA?

Even if those laws don’t apply in your situation, you could still ask. “We hear from people who aren’t covered by the ADA or state law, and it’s a harder road, but it doesn’t mean an employer isn’t willing to do something simple,” Nellis says.

Can you work with breast cancer?

Balancing your breast cancer treatment with your job can be tricky business. You can expect to need more time off and some adjustments to your routine, given your treatment and everything you ’re dealing with. Still, you may find work to be rewarding in more ways than one.

Is Shaw a speaker?

In 2011, she closed her restaurant. Today, she’s a speaker and coach and often works with women who have stage III or IV breast cancer.

Does the ADA apply to private employers?

Keep in mind that the ADA law applies only to private employers with 15 or more workers, and state and local government employers.

Do you have to work while getting cancer treatment?

Many people need, or want, to keep working while they get treatment, with some adjustments. In general, the law requires an employer to make “reasonable accommodations” for someone facing an illness like cancer. And that term has some wiggle room.

How many hours do you need to work to qualify for FMLA?

However, not everyone qualifies for FMLA protection. To qualify, you must have: 7 . Worked for the employer for at least 12 months prior to the FMLA request. Worked more than 1,250 hours in that calendar year.

How many weeks can you take FMLA?

In addition, employers who have fewer than 50 employees do not have to follow FMLA regulations. If protected by the FMLA, you can to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave from work. The act allows employees with serious medical illness, such as breast cancer, to use their leave “intermittently.”.

When will breast cancer be diagnosed in 2021?

on June 29, 2021. When you’re facing a breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, it’s hard to know how to approach things at work. Knowing what to say, what kind of accommodations to ask for, and how to take medical leave can all be important for your treatment and recovery. 1.

How long does it take to file a discrimination claim in the EEOC?

If you feel your rights have been violated or you’ve been dismissed from a job due to your diagnosis, you need to file a charge “within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory action,” according to the EEOC. The EEOC can be reached at (800) 669-4000.

What are some examples of accommodations?

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), examples of accommodations include: 5. Time off for physician appointments and to recover from treatment. Short breaks during the workday to rest and recover. An altered work schedule.

Can breast cancer patients request an undue hardship?

Employees with breast cancer can’t make requests of their employer that would cause them “undue hardship.”. The term “undue hardship” is different for every company, but the majority of these accommodations for individuals with any disability—not just cancer—cost companies very little.

Does ADA cover breast cancer?

Under the ADA, cancer qualifies on a case-by-case basis. The act protects individuals from losing their jobs due to disability and sets guidelines for employers regarding required accommodations. 4  The U.S. EEOC, which enforces the ADA, offers the following example of a woman with breast cancer who would qualify for job protection under the act.

What is the EEOC website?

Also has special information for people with cancer: “Questions and Answers About Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),”which can be found on the EEOC website at

How long does it take to file a complaint with the EEOC?

You must do this within 180 days of when you think the discrimination occurred (although some states or local laws allow you to take up to 300 days). For more specific information about ADA requirements affecting employment, contact the EEOC at 1-800-669-4000 or 1-800-669-6820 (TTY).

How to contact the Job Accommodation Network?

To find out more about job accommodations and employment of people with limitations, contact the Job Accommodation Network at 1-800-526-7234. They can talk with you about the requirements of the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act, if either one applies to you.

What does it mean to reassign an employee?

Reassigning an employee to a vacant position or assigning the employee different tasks if the employee is no longer able to perform his or her current job

How to keep notes of your work?

Keep notes of your contacts with office personnel, including the names of the people you spoke to, the date and place you spoke, and the information you received. It’s also a good idea to keep copies of your job performance evaluations and any other written information about your work. These can be very helpful if problems come up later.

What to say to coworkers when you are absent?

If co-workers helped with some of your responsibilities while you were absent, let them know you are thankful for their help and support.

What does it mean to get help at home?

Getting help at home can mean more energy for work. Certain daily chores may be divided among friends and family members.


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