Returning to work can be an important part of breast cancer recovery, but a new study has found that for some women, their diagnosis means career death.
Macquarie University’s Dr Senia Kalfa says most women in Australia return to work after a breast cancer diagnosis.
She says work can give purpose and dignity, financial wellbeing, social connection, self-esteem and a sense of normality.
But for some women that doesn’t happen.
Instead, they find themselves in unsteady employment which can cause stress and have negative effects on their health.
“Their work capacity was variously ignored, bureaucratised, challenged, micro-managed, recognised, and respected,” Dr Kalfa said.
The researchers grouped employer responses to recovering employees into four main categories.
Some stuck rigidly to their legal obligations, others took an economic approach, some took a moral approach and others went above and beyond to support breast cancer survivors.
Dr Kalfa says most women simply want their employer to be flexible.
“There is both a strong economic case and a strong moral case for flexibility and for tailoring a solution to the person’s needs,” she said. “Just ask them.”
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