Work is a crucial part of an individual’s life. Many cancer patients and cancer survivors return to work, either in a full or partial work capacity.
There are many people who face temporary jobs after diagnosis, work as freelancers or have been let go from work. Moments of success at workplaces are common as well: job descriptions can be modified or adjusted in order to help ensure that the employee is better equipped for work. There are options for technical solutions as well, such as an electric table or other means to support the returnee. There are as many stories as there are people with cancer. Getting cancer is not only about recovery from the physical treatments, a cancer survivor needs the support of his/her work place, so that the life routines are straightforward and the survivor does well at work as well.
Returning to work can be challenging and there might not be adequate support available after the treatment is finished. At cancer clinics, there might not be sufficient knowledge or awareness about the importance of work for the patient and potential obstacles in returning to work and rehabilitation. Information is spread to many sources but the big picture might not actualize.
The Association of Cancer Patients in Finland launched a work and cancer project “Feeling alive and empowered, also at work!” in the summer of 2017. The project is aimed at cancer survivors who face challenges when it comes to job search, returning to work, coping with work and other employment related issues. The aim is to encourage and support cancer survivors with concrete tools to combine cancer and work, and to provide an opportunity for counseling and peer support. The emphasis is on mental and social support without forgetting about physical well-being.
The Me, cancer and work project, supports groups, events and other types of happenings that offer peer support and information upon returning to work and everyday life, with or after cancer.
The project ran until the end of 2021 and was financed by the Funding Centre for Social Welfare and Health Organisations (STEA) under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.