Cancer and Careers: Eliminating Fear and Uncertainty for Working People With Cancer

Editor's Note: This is part of a series of Patient Advocate Guest Columns and Podcasts, launched as a forum for patient advocates to address a topic, issue, or trend within the cancer community through Cancer.Net, the patient information website of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).

Cancer and Careers: Eliminating Fear and Uncertainty for Working People With Cancer

A Patient Advocate Guest Column by Rebecca V. Nellis, Director of Programs, Cancer and Careers (

Cancer and Careers Logo

Cancer and Careers LogoCancer and Careers (CAC) is dedicated to empowering and educating people with cancer to thrive in their workplace by providing expert advice, interactive tools, and educational events. Through a comprehensive website, free publications, career coaching, and a series of support groups and educational seminars for employees with cancer and their healthcare providers and coworkers, Cancer and Careers strives to eliminate fear and uncertainty for working people with cancer.

For Patients and Survivors

Cancer and Careers offers a variety of tools and resources for those working during or after cancer treatment. is filled with articles, downloadable tools, charts and checklists covering everything from telling your boss, scheduling treatments, and knowing your legal rights. Currently serving over 180,000 visitors each year (in English and in Spanish), the website features expanded content for lower income workers, including where to get pro-bono legal advice, financial assistance, and what to do if you do not have insurance.

Two of the most popular areas of the website are the Online Career Coaching Center and Online Diary. The Diary is an interactive tool for people to share their personal experiences of working through cancer. The Coaching Center is one-of-a-kind, and offers survivors free access to professional coaches who address individual questions on how to manage their careers during and after treatment, as well as articles on universal professional development issues that affect employees with cancer.

Another great resource CAC offers is a library of publications, including the Living and Working With Cancer workbook; Most Important Resources for Working People with Cancer; Survival Guide to Working With Cancer as a Chronic Illness; and On The Go Guides, which feature indispensable advice on nutrition, fitness, and beauty. All publications are available in English and Spanish.

For those who prefer in-person events, CAC offers Cancer and Careers Community Seminars, addressing the unique challenges of cancer in the workplace. The series offers people with cancer guidance on some of the biggest issues faced when trying to balance both treatment and work. The National Conference on Work & Cancer addresses the complexities people face as they try to balance their cancer treatment and recovery with employment. The conference features experts discussing legal issues, health insurance, and career counseling. The event is geared towards patients, survivors, healthcare professionals, and caregivers.

CAC also offersAsk the Experts: Legal and Career Advice, for people with cancer dealing with issues across the work continuum. This teleconference series provides unprecedented access to expert guidance and referrals.

For Healthcare Professionals

Cancer and Careers offers an Educational Series for Healthcare Professionals, which provides oncology nurses, social workers, patient navigators, and other support providers with concise, targeted information on combining work and cancer treatment so that they can effectively inform their patients. This annual, accredited program includes a multi-part seminar series, accessible via webinars or teleconferences, and archived on the CAC website for replay anytime. There is also a dedicated website area for healthcare professionals on advising patients combining work and treatment, which includes articles, access to archived presentations, and a downloadable community seminar kit so they can hold educational events of their own.

For Young Adults

This underserved community of 18-40 year olds has its own set of unique challenges, including the issue of working through treatment early in a person's career. CAC offers job search tools, including an interview cheat sheet, networking tracker, case studies, and sample resumes. CAC representatives also present at conferences for young adults with cancer, including the OMG! Cancer Summit for Young Adults.

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If you are a patient advocate interested in authoring a future Patient Advocate Guest Column or Podcast, please contact patientadvocates@asco.orgor 571-483-1358.

The ideas and opinions expressed by the author and organization in this Patient Advocate Guest Column and Podcast do not necessarily reflect those of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). The mention of any product, service, organization, activity, or therapy in this column should not be construed as an ASCO endorsement. The information presented does not constitute medical or legal advice, and is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of individual conditions or as a substitute for consultation with a licensed medical professional. ASCO assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property arising out of or related to the information presented.

Last Updated: April 06, 2011