A study highlights the difficulties women face during cancer treatment, read more below about some cancer patients stories and what they have faced during cancer treatment.
Virginia Wettlaufer Tomenson was 31 years old and in the prime of her career when she was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer. As a retail development specialist for luxury jewelry company Harry Winston, she worked long hours and often had to jet off to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East at a moment’s notice.
She wasn’t about to let illness derail her. She continued to work throughout her treatment, which included multiple surgeries, months of chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. Virginia was treated at MSK in 2012 by Clifford Hudis, who is now the chief executive officer of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.
“My career was a big part of me, and I felt a sense that I need to keep this normalcy,” she recalls. “I also had a superwoman complex, thinking, I can take my job, cancer, and chemo and do it all. I’m not going to let cancer ruin my life.”
Indeed, work can be an important part of life for people with cancer, says Victoria Blinder, a researcher and oncologist at MSK. Aside from the income, work can benefit patients psychologically by giving them a sense of routine, purpose, and control. But for some patients, holding down a job isn’t always a guarantee.
What the Law Does — and Doesn’t — Say
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) — which covers state and local government employees as well as employees who work at private companies with 15 or more workers — mandates that employers offer reasonable accommodations for employees with a disability, including cancer. But there’s leeway with the law: What makes an accommodation reasonable? If an employer posits that providing such modifications would cause his or her business undue harm, he or she does not have to offer them.