Once you start to recover from your treatment you will need to look ahead and think about getting life back on track. There are likely to be hurdles to cross but help is at hand and you should adopt a positive attitude to the future.
Will you be able to return to your usual occupation?
Following any long journey with a blood cancer there will be obstacles to overcome. Some patients may be able to resume the work they were doing prior to diagnosis while others will have to resign from their previous employment and look at learning new skills to obtain future employment. This is a very difficult time as a large percentage of patients post treatment and transplant suffer from fatigue, which prevents them from working long hours. Patients who have undergone a bone marrow transplant might also have to come to terms with Graft-versus-host disease issues. The journey post treatment is very individual and in regard to returning to work can present some very confronting issues for you.
Things to consider when looking at returning to work:
- Are you able to work full time?
- Is your current employer aware of your capabilities?
- Are you able to negotiate shorter hours if needed?
- Does a Centrelink payment affect your options? To discuss your current benefit payments and eligibility for benefits if you return to work, contact Centrelink on 13 27 17 or go to www.humanservices.gov.au.
This is a very emotional time and you may seek an opportunity to talk through your options in a safe and protected environment. The Leukaemia Foundation has support staff who are available to speak with you, free of charge, to explore your options. Contact us on 1800 620 420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Re-assessing your current role and looking at other employment options
Coming to the realisation that your previous line of employment is not suitable to your level of ability is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome. Again, the Leukaemia Foundation support staff can provide advice and assistance to help you explore what options are available for you to help you embrace the future. If you are currently receiving a Centrelink benefit and wish to explore what other services they offer, visit www.humanservices.gov.au. Centrelink provides a Disability Employment Assistance Service that encompasses a myriad of support and information for the individual regarding job seeking and other services and programs.
There are many other agencies that provide guidance and assistance to help patients return to work. The Leukaemia Foundation’s staff can help you research these options further.
Below are some helpful links that you can explore:
Disability Employment Services Brisbane (DES) www.jobsearch.gov.au
Queensland Government www.qld.gov.au
Community Directory www.mycommunitydirectory.com.au The Brisbane community directory provides up-to-date information on disability employment and training services in Brisbane.
Wesley Mission Brisbane www.wmb.org.au Wesley Mission Brisbane Employment Services supports people with disability by helping them find and maintain meaningful employment.
Job Futures www.jobfutures.com.au
Another avenue some may wish to consider when looking at returning to work is contacting the various private providers in your local area. Employment services can provide individually tailored support for people facing barriers to obtaining or maintaining employment.
Sometimes you are unaware of their own capabilities. Sometimes the journey has been over such a long period of time that you have had to surrender your position with their employer and are in the position of exploring alternative employment. This can be very confronting. In trying to determine how much time you can offer an employer, you may want to consider volunteering to discover your current abilities and physical stamina. The Volunteering Queensland website is an excellent place to start.
Benefits of volunteering:
- improve self worth/self confidence
- create a skill base
- establish friendships and links with community
- create opportunity to explore new options and working environments
- discover your capacity within the working environment
- allows continuation with Centrelink payments while gaining control
- allows awareness of fatigue management.
Returning to work can be both exciting and overwhelming. After all that time off, you may no longer feel confident that you can cope with the workplace. If you’re returning to work after a severe or long-term illness, you should do so gradually. Your illness may have made it impossible for you to continue in your former occupation. You may need to set new goals and these may be quite modest when you first start back at work. As your health and confidence improve, you can revise or build on these goals. Firstly, you need to establish what you want, and what are you looking for in a job. Decide if you want:
- full-time or part-time work
- paid employment or work in a voluntary sector
- work in a familiar field or in a new area
- to retrain.
To plan a career, you need to know who you are. You need to have assessed your own values, interests, strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, personal resources and goals.
Where can you get help?
You may only need one person to talk things through with, or you might want to enlist a whole team of people to cheer you on. Use a professional counsellor, career or guidance officer, mentor, colleague, family member, friend or any combination of these. Anyone who can give you objective opinions and help you feel cheerful about job hunting is useful to you.
Some organisations that you may wish to contact are:
- Skilled Australia
- Skilling Solutions Queensland
- Employment Services Info Line 13 62 68
- Employment Plus Line (>45 yrs) 13 17 64
- Other independent employment agencies.
If you wish to pursue further studies you will need to do some research into the areas and institutions that interest you and from there explore what options are available. Initial contact should be made with the Career Guidance Officer at the chosen institution to further explore the entry requirements and application process. There are scholarships and grants offered through some charity groups that provide opportunities for individuals to pursue further study. If you wish to explore these options please contact:
The family home
Once you are in a position to review your lifestyle and think about the future it may be appropriate to consider the suitability of your family home. When you have lived in your home for many years it may become an accepted part of life and something you take for granted. Everyone’s circumstances are different but now could be a good time to think about its suitability for the future. Depending on individual health considerations and the nature of your home, some questions which may come to mind are:
- If it is a large home with substantial land, will maintenance be a future problem?
- If there is a possibility you may be handicapped, will you need modifications?
- Is the location convenient to medical facilities, family and other amenities?
If you have a large home there may be financial benefits in downsizing and releasing some of the money you have invested. Financial considerations may also be a negative factor in moving. When you sell a property there are usually agent and legal fees. When buying a new property you have to take into account Stamp Duty, legal fees, moving costs and the cost of fitting out such items as window and floor coverings. The total cost of selling one property and buying another may well run to tens of thousands of dollars. If you need modifications to your home as a result of your illness, you should seek advice from your treatment centre, or Queensland residents may contact Queensland Community Care Services on 1800 300 600.
Read another section
» Seeking help
» Advance Care Planning
» Managing your finances
» Accessing superannuation
» Legal matters
» Practical implications of a diagnosis
» Useful contacts