Cancer survivors call for greater employer awareness

A fifth of people treated for cancer have been concerned whether they were still fit for the job when they returned to work,  but 33 per cent said it would have helped if there was greater awareness amongst employers about the challenges of cancer after treatment, a new survey has revealed.

The research from Bupa found 22 per cent of those treated for cancer felt pressured to return to work straight after their treatment finished, but 70 per cent went back to work because they wanted things to be as normal as possible.

The research comes as Bupa launches its TV adverts showcasing its Cancer Survivorship Programme which provides its customers with an oncology nurse who is available on the phone for as long as patients and their families need them. The programme aims to give support on anything from emotional issues, to providing advice on guidance on how to improve recovery.

More women than men felt self-conscious going back to work, an issue for 26 per cent of females compared to 15 per cent of men. 

Bupa found that whilst the majority felt positive about returning to work, with 48 per cent saying they were enthusiastic to ‘get back to normal’ and 41 per cent happy to be back, 25 per cent felt emotionally drained.

Only 13 per cent of people said that they were tempted to not return to their role once they had completed treatment.

According to the study, there are various reasons why people go back to work. More than half – 52 per cent – said it was financially necessary, while 30 per cent claimed that they thought work would help their recovery.

Bupa cancer healthcare manager Jayne Molyneux said: “Once cancer treatment has finished it can be a very challenging time for people. Everyone reacts differently and patients tell us that their feelings range from being grateful for their recovery to isolation and exhaustion. Of course, the decision to return to work is a very personal one but we find that most are keen to get back to the life they had before diagnosis.”

“Importantly, this research shows that many patients – 33 per cent – would have found it helpful if there was a greater awareness amongst employers about the ongoing effects of cancer after treatment. Therefore, employers and colleagues must be aware that not everyone responds to being back in their job in the same way and will require ongoing support in different ways.”