When you find out that you have incurable cancer, if and when you choose to stop working is a very personal decision. There is no right or wrong answer and it's important to do what feels right for you. Some people wish to continue working for a slong as possible and for others this might seem like a financial necessity. There may also come a point when you feel too unwell to work.
It is important that your employer is understanding and flexible in their response to your needs at this time, and that you feel respected and supported by them.
Staying at work
Everyone living with cancer is protected under the Equalities Act 2010 (in England, Scotland and Wales) or the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (in Northern Ireland) against unfair treatment in the workplace. This means your employer can't sack you or make you redundant because of your illness. They must also make reasonable adjustments to accommodate your needs at work, which might include altering your working hours or reallocating some of your duties.
However your employer may be able to end your employment on grounds of capability because of your health issues. Organisations such as Citizens Advice can help ensure that you know your rights and the support available to you, and Macmillan offer comprehensive advice about work issues.
For most women with incurable cancer there will come a point when they choose to stop working altogether. This may be to spend more time doing things that give them pleasure or it may be because they are too unwell to continue working.
If work has played an important role in your life, or if you feel you have not had a choice in the decision, stopping work may be particularly difficult to cope with. It can be useful to talk to friends, family, your Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS) or your GP about how you are feeling. If you would prefer to speak to someone further removd from your personal situation, take a look at our Other sources of support for details of how to find professional support.
Adapting your home
There may come a time when you consider adapting your home or getting some specialist equipment to make day-to-day life a little easier. This could range from a foam cushion to ease discomfort when you are sitting down, to having parts of your home modified or purchasing special furniture. If this is something you are considering, speak to your CNS about what support is available to you.
You might be able to get some free equipment from your local social services department or on a long-term loan from the NHS, or you may be entitled to some financial support depending on where you live in the UK.
Benefits and other financial support
There are different types of benefit entitlements available to you depending on your financial circumstances. These include benefits that replace your earnings, help with housing costs or extra costs resulting from your illness.
Many people are unaware of the financial help and support available to them and large sums of money go unclaimed each year. Macmillan have a benefits helpline staffed by trained advisers that can be reached on 0808 808 0000 or through their website.
It is also worth regularly checking the benefits that you are entitled to because these may change if your circumstances change.
Find out more
- Controlling your symptoms
- Relationships, sex and intimacy
- Thinking about the future - advance care planning
The information on this page is approved by the Information Standard scheme to ensure that it provides accurate and high-quality information.
Last reviewed: May 2017
Next review: April 2020