CANSA Relay For Life

Fight Back

The responsibility rests with patients to contact CANSA for assistance. Read more...

Cancer: know your rights

The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) places the spotlight on managing cancer in the workplace with its Relay For Life Corporate event on 5 & 6 October 2013. The 3rd  annual corporate event, again taking place at Denel’s Irene Campus this year, not only honours cancer survivors and caregivers, it also aims to create awareness of the challenges both employees and companies experience when having to deal with the dreaded disease.

The words: ‘You have cancer’, mark the beginning of a long journey of treatment and recovery for cancer survivors. Those diagnosed with cancer, who have no choice but to continue working, often have the additional stress of having to negotiate their way through bureaucracy related to health insurance, sick leave and possibly redefining their work responsibilities in a way that has the least impact on their companies.

Whether you are an employee or an employer, you need to know what your rights are when it comes to managing cancer in the workplace.

Develop a dreaded disease policy

CANSA recommends that all companies develop a policy for life threatening diseases, including cancer, which protects the rights of both the company and the employee affected by the disease.

Says CANSA Chief Executive Officer Sue Janse van Rensburg: “Having certainty about how to deal with cancer at work significantly reduces the challenges that arise when an employee discovers that he or she has cancer. It provides the cancer survivor with information about what they are entitled to, as well as giving the company guidelines on how to manage the situation.”

What is the policy for?

A dreaded disease policy’s main objective is to determine guidelines and encourage awareness of life threatening diseases, in a context of understanding the difficulty of dealing with serious illness such as cancer.

Its main purpose is to promote equality and non-discrimination between people who suffer from life threatening diseases and those without with further reference to other comparable medical conditions.

Supportive environment

“It’s critical that the policy should enable a supportive environment in which affected employees are able to continue working under normal conditions for as long as they are fit to do so,” says Janse van Rensburg.

Creating such an environment would involve educating all employees on the effects of life threatening diseases and how to deal with them. “Managers also need to be given guidelines on how to effectively manage employees suffering from any dreaded diseases in line with policy and legislative requirements.

“Most important of all is that the policy needs to define the organisation’s position and practices when it comes to these employees,” she says.

For information, care and support, both cancer survivors and companies can contact their closest CANSA Care Centre call the toll-free line on 0800 22 66 22 or email

Enter a team

Relay For Life Corporate is a fun-filled, overnight team experience which gives a ‘face and a voice’ to cancer survivors as well as an opportunity for corporate companies and businesses to show their support by committing to fight cancer. Organised by a corporate volunteer committee, corporate team members take turns walking a track from 5pm to 6am the following morning building team spirit and networking with other companies and raising funds for CANSA.

Companies are encouraged to enter teams to participate. Early bird registrations before 31 August will cost only R2 000 a team, which can comprise 10 to 15 members, with proceeds going to CANSA. To register, go to or email


All funds raised at the CANSA Relay For Life is allocated to the unique integrated service provided to the public and all people affected by cancer. As a leading role-player in cancer research (more than R6 million spent annually), the scientific findings and knowledge gained from our research are used to realign our health programmes as well as strengthen our watchdog role to the greater benefit of the public. Our wide-reaching health programme comprises prevention and education campaigns; over 30 CANSA Care Centres that offer stoma support and lymphoedema management; medical equipment hire; a toll-free line and support to those affected by cancer; patient care and support in the form of 12 CANSA Care Homes in the main metropolitan areas for out-of-town cancer patients plus one hospitium based in Polokwane, as well as CANSA-TLC lodging for parents and guardians of children undergoing cancer treatment.

Follow CANSA on Twitter: @CANSA and join CANSA on Facebook.

(For more information, please contact Munnik Marais, CANSA’s Head: Business Development or email:, call 012 329 3036 or cell: 083 268 8701. Or visit or call CANSA toll-free 0800 22 66 22, or email:

Do you have a question?


Book a counselling session

CANSA Tele Counselling