Working with cancer

Louise Pode and Steve Khan talk about returning to work after cancer

Listeners have heard calls for a better understanding of cancer in the workplace.

It comes as a new scheme tries to encourage businesses to support people returning to work after treatment.

In the latest in his series of interviews about the Clatterbridge-based Living With And Beyond Cancer scheme, Steve Evans heard how groups are trying to engage more with bosses.

Listen to our full series of interviews here.

Patient advisor Steve Khan has been looking at the expectations of employees and employers when people return to their jobs.

Speaking on the Coffee Club, he told listeners that people underestimate the long-term impact of cancer treatment.

"There is life after it. You might have to alter some of the things you do and create some coping strategies." - Steve Khan

Steve told listeners that with half a million people in the workforce with cancer and 63,000 more wanting to return to work it's an issue that won't go away.

Recent research by Liverpool-based ProAbility showed 49% of employees took extended leave during treatement, with less than one in twenty saying it was the wrong decision.

But of the 40% worked through treatment, one third said they made the wrong choice because they underestimated their symptoms or work-based challenges.

ProAbility's managing director, Louise Pode, explained that good communication and emotional support are key to understanding the effect cancer has had on the employee.

Without listening and planning ahead, she explained, the transition is not so easy.

"They expect the employee to be absolutely fine... but actually it's not like that. It's still very much a journey of recovery." - Louise Pode

Steve Khan has launched the Me 2 initiative which encourages workers to sit down with their line manager in advance to discuss how they return to work and manage their fatigue.

He said expectations from all sides are often too high.

"What we say to people most of the time is once you're over your treatment things will look up. The reality is that isn't the case." - Steve Khan

The Living With and Beyond Cancer programme was launched in 2015 and aims to improve access to specialist support to patients and families on Merseyside and in Cheshire.


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