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From Diagnosis to Remission: How to Support Employees Living With Cancer

October 8, 2019 / Employee Wellbeing Best Practices

Written By: Gabrielle Purchon

Did you know that about 46% of people who have cancer are of working age? To employers, this might come as a surprise, especially since many cancer patients and survivors remain active at work before, during, and after cancer treatment. Employers can — and should be — prepared to help employees with cancer throughout the entire journey from diagnosis to recovery.

More People Are Living With a Chronic Condition Than Ever Before

More than 150 million adults in the American workforce have at least one chronic health condition such as cancer, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression. About 1.73 million of those adults were diagnosed with cancer last year, and the number of employees living with cancer is expected to continue increasing in the near future.

Being diagnosed with a chronic disease is a life-altering event, but it doesn’t have to be the end of a person’s career. Continuing to work while living with cancer can be incredibly important for a number of reasons. Not only does it provide much-needed income to cover medical expenses, it allows access to employer-sponsored healthcare and important social support networks.

Strategies That Support Employees With Cancer

To help those who continue to work, it’s critical that employers offer disease management solutions to best support employees during this extremely difficult time. Aside from providing an employee wellness program that promotes preventive measures like health assessments and healthy lifestyle changes as well as tools for chronic condition management, employers should offer and support:

  • Flexible work schedules to accommodate regular doctor’s appointments.
  • Taking a leave of absence that guarantees the option to return to work.
  • Health insurance for all eligible employees.
  • Guidance for sharing the news with coworkers or a supervisor and a safe space in which to do so.
  • Financial planning for medical expenses.

Currently, employers still have some work to do to ensure employees with cancer or other chronic conditions are truly supported in the workplace. According to an Economic Intelligence Unit Survey, respondents felt that their companies still needed to improve in the following areas:

For more information on the impact of workplace support and how employers can better assist employees living with cancer and other chronic diseases, we invite you to register for our live webinar on Thursday, October 10 at 2pm EDT with Sangeeta Agarawal, the Founder & CEO of Helpsy Health.


About Helpsy Health:

Helpsy Health is the world’s first virtual whole-health nurse for symptom management and navigation (SAN). SAN can automatically create a personalized care plan and provide dynamic support to patients through integrative technologies, empowering patients and clinicians alike. Helpsy has served tens of thousands of patients from all over the world and the data generated provides insights that have never been captured or understood before. Helpsy supports 500 unique symptoms with over 20,000 recommendations from over 30 different healthcare modalities, all backed by evidence-based research and science. Helpsy is on a mission to empower people to have the best health outcomes possible while living their life to the fullest.

About Sangeeta Agarawal, RN, MS

Sangeeta started her career as a software engineer in Silicon Valley, working for companies including IBM, Motorola/Google. She then developed the world’s first mobile video technology at a startup later acquired by Skype; this invention continues to change the world even today. She then changed her career into integrative medicine by studying, practicing and conducting research in both eastern and western medicine. She spent the next decade as a researcher, oncology nurse and integrative medicine practitioner at institutions including the Mayo Clinic, Stanford Cancer Center, and UCSF Cancer Center. Her groundbreaking research work on the development of algorithms for clinical impact of integrative medicine was recognized by UCSF and NSF, and she received support from them to start Helpsy.

When employees are fighting a chronic disease, stress levels can amplify. Download the Stress Toolkit to learn how to help your employees build skills like resilience and grit to better manage stress at work.

About The Author

Gabrielle is the content marketing manager and strategist at Virgin Pulse. Her adventurous and food-seeking attitude has led her to jump out of planes and dine at one of the best restaurants in the world. But as someone who strives for balance, you can also find her enjoying quiet moments with a book or face planting in the sand come summer.

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