Returning to work

Deciding when to start work again will depend on your individual situation. You may consider returning to work after treatment. Many women find that returning to work or a regular activity makes them feel valued.

Some people find that breast cancer makes them think about changing their work priorities.

You may decide to try a different career path or change to part-time or casual work. If you find you are continuing to feel tired when treatment is over, talk with your employer or organisation about making your hours more flexible for a period of time.

A discussion with your personnel manager or supervisor early after your return to work will be useful in clarifying expectations.

Tips for returning to work after breast cancer:

  • Plan who you will inform about your work arrangements.
  • If you need to take leave give as much notice as possible.
  • Explore options for flexible hours.
  • Ask for leave before you over do it.
  • Keep records of work hours and any discussions with your supervisor/manager.

If you are returning to the same job, it is likely that your manager or colleagues will be aware of the reason for your time off. However, this is not always the case.

Tips for talking to colleagues about breast cancer

These tips may be helpful when considering discussing your breast cancer experience at work.

Who would you have talked to about personal issues that have a bearing on your work before your diagnosis?

  • Who needs to know about the possible effects of treatment on your performance?
  • Who needs to know about your absence or potential absences?
  • What positive impact on your relationships might a low-key approach to letting others know have?
  • How might your colleagues be concerned about your health and performance with or without knowledge about your treatment for early breast cancer?

The Cancer Council has developed a guide about work and cancer that includes information for employees and managers. Visit The Cancer Council Website.