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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Steps To Consider Before You Return To Work

Give your employer notice of your intent to return to work.

  • As a general matter, give your employer as much notice as possible so preparations can be made.
  • If your leave has been under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or similar law, you are required to give notice to your employer of your intent to return at least two days before your return

Decide ahead of time what you want to tell your boss about your medical condition.

  • While your boss can't ask about the details of your health condition, you can be asked about your ability to do the work. Decide what you want to disclose.
  • If potential absenteeism is a concern, it may help to know that research indicates that cancer survivors who return to work have no greater absenteeism than employees without a cancer history.
  • Also be prepared in case your boss asks a question that isn't allowed to be asked. For help in thinking through a response, see Interview For A New Job. While the article is about a new job, the suggestions apply equally as well to your situation.

Decide ahead of time what you want to tell your co-workers about your absence and you/r current situation.

  • While you have no obligation to tell co-workers anything, they will of course be curious.
  • Even if you didn't disclose your health condition before you stopped working, the odds are your co-workers know about your condition by now.
  • What and how much you want to tell co-workers is up to you.
  • If you decide to tell about your condition, but want to set limits on what you're willing to discuss, let your co-workers know it.
  • Keep in mind that there is nothing that prevents any co-worker from telling other co-workers • or anyone else for that matter.

Keep your support systems in place.

Keep support systems in place at least through your initial return to work. Returning to the work place can be emotionally difficult.

Think about whether you will need an accommodation either temporarily or permanently to permit you to do the essential functions of your job.

If you will, get a letter from your doctor addressed to your employer.

  • The letter should state that you are ready to return to work. It should then describe your limitations and whether they are permanent or temporary. If temporary, it would be helpful if the doctor could state how long they would reasonably be predicted to continue. If there is no way of knowing, that should also be stated.
  • The letter does not have to describe your diagnosis or medical condition

Think about how you want to approach your employer about an accommodation.

  • When do you want to have the conversation?
  • What accommodations would work for you? Which one is your preferred suggestion?
  • How do you want to ask?

To help think through the answers to these questions, see Accommodations.

Even if you don't need an accommodation, if you have any limitations, whether they are temporary or permanent, don't try to hide them from your employer.

  • At the least, your energy level may not be back to normal yet.
  • Limitations will become evident in any event so bring them up yourself. At the same time, let your employer know you can do the essential functions of your job.
  • To learn more about the essential functions of your job, see Accommodations.

Consider visiting your work site a few days before you return to work.

  • It will give you a chance in an informal setting to catch up with your co-workers.
  • It will also give you a few days to adjust to the changes with out the pressure of working at the same time.
  • Perhaps there's some homework you can do that will help bring you to speed so your first days back at work will be less stressful.
  • If you need an accommodation, this is a good to discuss with your employer what you need to permit you to do the essential functions of your job.
  • A visit will also give your co-workers a chance to start to adjust to your return without you being present.

Think about the stress in your workplace.

Are there steps you can take to reduce the stress or to deal with it better than you did before you stopped working? For information about dealing with stress, click here.

Once You Return To Work

Don't try to start your job full tilt. You will likely need time to build up your confidence again, and perhaps your energy as well.

Give yourself time to adjust to the renewed expenditure of energy and mental focus. Setbacks may happen, but you don't want to bring one on if you can avoid it.

Let your boss know you're purposely starting at less than full ability so he or she doesn't begin to think that your slower reentry speed is what is to be expected.

Don't be surprised if you feel a mixture of emotions.

Emotions when returning to work can range from excitement to anxiety and fear â€" as well as possibly other unexpected emotions. It's one of the reasons we suggested you keep your support team in place. Perhaps you can find a support group that includes other people also returning to work.

Understand that your return may be welcomed by your co-workers, but it will still be disruptive to some extent.

It couldn't hurt to:

  • Let co-workers know that you appreciate their patience while you are getting adjusted to being back to work and up-to-speed.
  • Thank them for whatever they may have done for you while you were not working.

If you start to become overwhelmed, it is okay to say "no" or to ask for an extension of a deadline.

People will understand if you let them know you are still not totally up to your old self yet. Let them know that you are getting there, and doing your best.

Your job may seem different to you.

The old familar world will seem different.  Things have not stood still since you stopped working. Likewise, you are probably different.

It could be that your thought processes have changed or there's been a change in what you do, or don't, want to do. If you would like a change in your job, ask for it.

If it means you would consider changing jobs, your health history is no reason to prevent a change.  Try the job for at least a month to see get past the initial transition and see how you really feel. Thanks to HIPAA and similar laws, you are no longer subjected to job lock due to your health history.  

Work to stop being "the person with ....."

Over time, people with either forget about your health condition or realize it doesn't prevent you from doing your job - if indeed you do your job. If you used to work an 80 hour week, it may take a while before you are able to be up to full speed again. The more progress you make toward your former work ability, and the longer it goes on, the more likely the pigeon hole of "a person with...." with fade away.

Think about what to say to well meaning people. For instance, what if someone comes over to you and says "My dad had XXXXXXXXXX too."  You cannot just ignore a statement such as that or get angry - even though you are trying to divorce yourself from that identity. Consider saying something that validates the person, and then changes the subject. For instance:  “Thank you for sharing that." (Validation). "Do you have have time this week to talk abk about XYZ project, or the e mail I sent you yesterday?" (Change of subject). 

To Learn More

More Information

Changing Jobs HIPAA