Resilience Redefined: Women Returning to the Workplace after Cancer
Life has a way of throwing curveballs at us when we least expect it. For many women, one such curveball is a cancer diagnosis. The journey from diagnosis to recovery is challenging, physically and emotionally. But what happens when the battle is over, and it's time to return to the workplace? This blog explores the aspects to consider for women who have faced cancer head-on and emerged stronger, ready to rejoin the workforce.
- The trauma of diagnosis and treatment
A cancer diagnosis is a life-altering moment. It forces individuals to confront their mortality, re-evaluate their priorities, and summon unimaginable strength. Women diagnosed with cancer often undergo gruelling treatments, which can take a physical and emotional toll. However, their determination to survive and thrive is awe-inspiring to others, to the woman talk of courage, bravery and positivity can be jarring, their experience may be very different behind closed doors, to the brave face they show to the world.
- The Pause: Taking Time Off Work
During cancer treatment, many women take a temporary hiatus from their careers. This pause serves as a time for healing, reflection, and regaining strength. It can range from a few months to several years, depending on the individual's diagnosis and treatment plan. But many women return to the workplace very different people with a new perspective, what if the stress made them ill? What if having a career is not what lights them up any more? Loss of identity is common and can be distressing and confusing.
- The Support System
Returning to work after cancer is a significant transition, and it's often made smoother by the support of family, friends, and employers. Companies that offer flexible work arrangements, extended medical leave, and emotional support are essential in helping women reintegrate into the workforce.
- Rebuilding Confidence
Cancer treatment can take a toll on one's self-esteem and body image. The physical changes that result from treatment can be challenging to navigate. However, many women find the strength to embrace their new selves, often emerging with a newfound sense of resilience and confidence. But this can also be a time when very strong women need support, more than ever.
- Redefining Success
Cancer survivors often have a unique perspective on life. Many women returning to work after cancer find that their priorities have shifted. They may focus more on work-life balance, mental health, and finding a sense of purpose in their careers. They may also recognise that they need to set boundaries, the realisation that life is short can radically shift a definition of what success actually means to them.
- The Power of Advocacy
Some women who have faced cancer choose to become advocates for cancer awareness and research. Their personal experiences make them passionate advocates who work tirelessly to improve the lives of others affected by this disease.
- Inspiring Others
The stories of women returning to the workplace after cancer can be a source of inspiration for coworkers, friends, and family. Their resilience, determination, and ability to overcome adversity remind us all of the strength of the human spirit. The expectation of being triumphant and having 'won the battle' can also become a burden for some.
- Employers' Role
Employers play a pivotal role in facilitating the return of cancer survivors to the workplace. By implementing policies that support employees during and after treatment, they can create a more inclusive and compassionate work environment.
The journey of women returning to the workplace after battling cancer is a testament to the power of the human spirit. These women face unimaginable challenges, but they may emerge stronger, with a renewed sense of purpose and determination. Their stories inspire us all to be more compassionate, understanding, and supportive, not only in the workplace but in every aspect of life. As a society, we can learn from their experiences and work together to create a more inclusive and supportive world for all.
If women are not experiencing a smooth return to work, especially when all the support available during treatment fades away, they may need a different kind of emotional and practical support to ensure a happy and positive return to work.
Quote - 'No man steps into the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man' (or woman!)
This is a time when coaching from a survivor who has already faced these challenges, can really help. Please contact me if you would like to work with me, I'm here for you