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New website helps cancer patients and survivors with work-related challenges

Cancer often affects people in the prime of their careers. While coping with the emotional impact of a cancer diagnosis and navigating treatment is challenging on its own, returning to work with cancer presents a host of other difficulties.
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​While 60 per cent of those diagnosed with cancer will return one to two years following treatment, 25 to 53 per cent will either quit or lose their jobs. These staggering numbers are a clear indication that there is a need for comprehensive information to support a return to work for many cancer survivors.

A new website — CancerAndWork.ca — has been designed to meet this need, providing support for anyone who plans to stay at work during treatment and for those that plan to leave. It also strives to help cancer survivors develop strategies to remain working long after treatment, including advice for changing or continuing careers.

Developed by McGill University and the B.C. Cancer Agency in partnership with de Souza Institute and made possible with financial support from Health Canada through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer, this website provides abundant information and resources to support cancer survivors at any point in their cancer and work experience and no matter where they live, including rural cancer patients and survivors that do not live near a cancer centre. 

While legal information and some resources are focused on the Canadian context, CancerAndWork.ca is the most extensive website on this topic in the world, providing links to resources around the globe that are useful to cancer survivor everywhere, including information and tools for employees, employers and healthcare providers. It also fills the need for a deeper understanding about the roadblocks that survivors face, and how healthcare providers and employers can facilitate a successful return to work strategy.

With over 20 years of experience, the BC Cancer Agency had the first and now longest standing provincial hospital-based oncology vocational rehabilitation ​program in Canada. Much of the content for CancerAndWork.ca has been built using the knowledge gained from many years of rehabilitation experience as well as patient input provided to the BC Cancer Agency.

The information is customized into three groups: for cancer patients and survivors, healthcare providers and employers. Using parallel resources that enhance communication and collaboration in addressing work-related issues, content includes topics such as impact on work, planning for a return to work, insurance and financial information, specific workplace challenges, caregiver information, legal rights and responsibilities, and much more. CancerAndWork.ca makes it easy to find the content and resources cancer survivors need.

It brings together the expertise of collaborators from all across Canada. Health professionals in oncology have provided an in-depth review of the most common symptoms and treatments that impact survivors at work. Other experts have provided symptom management options and ideas to facilitate job accommodations.

Many other professionals have contributed content and expertise, including: human rights and employment lawyers, union representatives, insurance providers, vocational rehabilitation counsellors, nurses, clinicians, dieticians, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, kinesiologists, psychologists, disability managers, lymphedema specialists, and many more. It is continually evolving to be at the forefront of providing comprehensive, helpful information.
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