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Breast Cancer and Workplace Issues

Taking Care of Business While Taking Care Of Your Health


Updated July 08, 2010

When you're diagnosed with breast cancer, you don't have to quit working. You will need a little help from your coworkers and lots of support from your employer. Having breast cancer in the workplace is like taking a crash course from a great teacher – you quickly learn important facts about your rights and responsibilities, you memorize the sick leave policy, and you get to be a whiz at paperwork. Here are some tips for dealing with workplace issues and breast cancer.

Breaking Your News to Your Boss

It may be hard to do, but telling your boss that you've been diagnosed with breast cancer is in your best interest.  Your boss can provide support and access to helpful resources while you're in treatment.  Before you tell your employer that you have breast cancer, get prepared, know what questions to ask, and stay calm.  Here are some tips for having the conversation.

Talking to Your Coworkers about Your Breast Cancer

You don't have to tell your co-workers that you have breast cancer - it's a very personal decision, if you do.  Telling your co-workers that you have breast cancer can be tricky. Before you tell your co-workers that you have breast cancer, get prepared, choose carefully, and know that your news may leak out anyway. Here's some advice on telling your co-workers that you have breast cancer.

Know The Sick Leave Or The Paid Time Off Policy At Work

A word to the wise: get your company's sick leave policy in writing. If there are special sections that apply to employees with cancer or those needing extra sick leave hours, be sure you get the full details on how to qualify for, and use, that extra time. Find out all you need to know about sick leave before you start using it for cancer treatments and recovery time.

Learn Your Patient's Rights And Responsibilities

As an employee, you have the right to work and keep your job. Patient's rights may vary by state, but there are some good general principles that should apply to patient anywhere. Likewise, these rights come with some responsibilities. Knowing your patient's rights as well as your responsibilities helps you be an empowered patient and a better employee.

FMLA: Family Medical Leave Act Extends Your Sick Leave

The average employee gets an average of 3.8 weeks of total leave time - that includes your vacation, personal days, and sick leave. You'll need more than that to get through treatment for breast cancer. When your 3.8 weeks of leave are used up, FMLA hours will be there for you. Find out how to qualify and use FMLA time.

ADA: Americans with Diabilities Act Protects You From Job Discrimination

You can't be fired for having breast cancer. A diagnosis of breast cancer threatens more than your health - it can impact your ability to work and leave you open to employment discrimination. Learn how the ADA law, administered by the EEOC protects your job during breast cancer.

COBRA: Continuing Health Insurance If You Are Laid Off

COBRA health insurance is one option to get a continuation of health benefits if you get laid off from work. COBRA health insurance must be applied for within a specific deadline. Your employer should notify you of your eligibility for COBRA health insurance.

SSDI: Social Security Disability Insurance For Advanced Breast Cancer

If your breast cancer or your treatments become overwhelming and you are unable to keep working, you may qualify for SSDI benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance can help with the financial burden of advanced breast cancer. Find out of you may qualify for SSDI and how it could benefit you.

Keep Good Medical Records

Your general health won't go into a holding pattern while you're in treatment for breast cancer. Keeping good health records will help you if you ever need to juggle your appointment schedule, get a second opinion, or update your oncologist on your other health issues. Here are the essential things to keep in your medical records.

Learn About Medical Tax Deductions

Cancer treatment is costly, but if you keep good records and your expenses qualify, you may be able to deduct some of your expenses from your taxes. Learn if you qualify and how to deduct medical expenses.

Keep A Health Care Notebook

Keeping a health notebook during treatment for breast cancer can save you money and give you a feeling of control. Keep track of all your payments, bills, and insurance statements during breast cancer is easy. Here's how to set up and use a cancer health care notebook.
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