Talking to your employer about cancer

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead.

While you don't have to tell anyone at work about your cancer diagnosis and treatment, it may be beneficial to do so. Learn about how to manage your employment when you've been diagnosed with cancer.

Key points

  • You do not need to tell your employer or your coworkers anything you don't want to about your cancer treatment, but there can be benefits to telling your supervisor or human resources.
  • You will likely need to take time off and your abilities my change, so if your employer knows this then they can accomodate you.
  • If you need help financially, talk to your social worker as they can help you find financial resources.
  • Do not stop taking your medications; if you are struggling to afford your medications, speak with your health-care team.

Do I need to tell my employer I have cancer?

You do not have to tell anyone at work that you have cancer if you don’t want to, but there can be benefits to telling your supervisor or the human resources manager about your cancer and treatment.

  • You will probably need to take some time off work for appointments or treatment, or for times when you’re not feeling well. You can ask your supervisor what changes can be made to your schedule.
  • If your abilities change due to cancer or treatment, you may need special equipment or a different role in the workplace.

If you are finding it hard to manage financially, or if you feel like you are working to pay for your medications, your social worker can put you in touch with resources for work and financial support to help with the cost of medications and other required treatments.

Taking your medication is really important, so please don’t ever stop buying them unless your health-care team say that you don’t need them anymore. If you’re worried about how much your medication is costing your family, ask to speak with the social worker; they might be able to help with this.

You will learn more about working after cancer and managing your finances in the section After cancer.

The Canadian Cancer Society also has a range of resources available to help you find support in your local community.

Last updated: September 3rd 2019