CANSA Relay For Life

Fight Back

Advice for Employers & Employees after a Cancer Diagnosis

What employers can do

  • If or when your employees are diagnosed, take time to discuss how you can help them with their expected cancer journey – inclusive of treatment to follow, possible side effects, sick leave, affordability of treatment, their ability to continue working during and after treatment and their support systems at work and home.
  • Be sensible, don’t overact. Be empathetic. Know that it’s not contagious and if at all possible, employees should be encouraged to carry on working.
  • For information, care and support, refer them to the closest CANSA Care Centre (, or call the toll-free line on 0800 22 66 22 or email

What employees need to do

You need to talk to your employer as soon as possible after your diagnosis. They need the following info – diagnosis, nature of your treatment and possible effects it will have on you to enable them to assess how it will affect your work capabilities in your working environment.

Go in with solutions. Suggest ways in which you will be able to continue to cope with your work and what your employer can do to help you to continue to be productive.

Be confident and assertive. While you are undergoing treatment and feel tired and weak, you may want to give up and resign or would even accept unfair treatment from your employer. Know your rights according to the companies’ dread diseases protocol and if not in place, help them to develop one.  If you do perceive that there is a process of discrimination against you, be brave enough to confront the situation.

Surround yourself with support. Not just your loved ones, family and friends but include your colleagues and mentors that can help you maintain a sense of equilibrium.

Always act in a responsible manner to yourself and your employer.  Don’t abuse the kindness of your employer and colleagues as it may create prejudice for future cancer survivors in your working place.

For information, care and support, contact your closest CANSA Care Centre (

Do you have a question?