Some people continue working during their treatment. Some are unable to work or go back to what they did before the treatment.

Some people may be able to re-train and take on a different job. Others may be physically able to return to their old job but not feel emotionally up to going back straight away.

For many, working may represent ‘normality’ and is a sign that they are over their cancer. Some people have no choice but to keep working through and after treatment.

If you had to leave your old job before or during treatment, you may find it hard to get another job now that your treatment is over. 

Many employers are supportive of employing someone who has had cancer. Sometimes, this is not the case.

Cancer and your work

Learn more about your rights as an employee if you're working during treatment or returning to work afterwards.

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Financial assistance and benefits

A cancer diagnosis and treatment impacts you physically, emotionally and financially. You may be eligible for a benefit.

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Cancer and insurance

There are practical and financial support, insurance and other options available to support you and your whānau.

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Challenges you may face if you do go back to work

If you return to your job or start a new one, and people know that you have had cancer treatment, you may face some challenges.

Co-workers are often great friends and provide strong support. However, some co-workers may not know how to react and be frightened of hurting your feelings, so they may avoid saying anything at all. They may act as though nothing has happened and believe you must be okay because you look well and seem to be able to do your job again.

Others may ask you questions that you are not ready to answer. You may feel angry, hurt and frustrated by people’s reactions.

The more relaxed and open you are about your cancer and its treatment, the more likely it will be that your co-workers respond to you in a way that feels right for you.

If you have a lot of trouble settling back into your work life, it may help to talk with a counsellor.

Some workplaces will have a service you can use. Otherwise, contact your local Cancer Society to see what counselling and assistance services are available to you. 

What if I can no longer work?

Not being able to work can be very stressful. You will most likely still need a regular income to pay for bills, the mortgage or rent, and other living expenses.

It’s important that you get the support and advice you need. Work and Income provide financial assistance and employment services through New Zealand.

Need someone to talk to?
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0800 226 237 Information nurse

We know that going through cancer is tough and can raise many questions. You are not alone.

We have health professionals to answer your questions and provide the support you need. Get in touch

Last updated: December 22, 2022