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How to juggle work and breast-cancer treatment

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Age is a risk factor for breast cancer, and the organization Susan G. Komen notes that the older a woman is, the more likely she is to get breast cancer. However, data from the National Cancer Institute indicates that breast cancer rates in women begin to increase after age 40, meaning many women diagnosed with breast cancer have to juggle both their disease and their careers.

The nonprofit organization Breastcancer.org says that breast cancer treatments can produce some cognitive side effects that affect thinking and memory. Memory loss and difficulty concentrating are two such side effects that can make it difficult for working women to do their jobs while being treated for breast cancer.

Professional women diagnosed with breast cancer may be able to take advantage of short- and long-term disability programs that provide a percentage of their incomes if they are diagnosed with an illness that prevents them from doing their jobs. In addition, Breastcancer.org notes that, in the United States, the Family and Medical Leave Act allows employees to maintain their benefits and keep their jobs while taking up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to heal from serious health conditions.

Despite those options, many women may want to continue working while receiving treatment for breast cancer. Such women can heed the following tips, courtesy of Breastcancer.org, to overcome any cognitive effects of treatment so they can continue to perform their jobs capably:

Start taking notes. Start taking notes during meetings, important work-related conversations, and even doctor’s appointments to counter any issues with memory. Keep such notes on a tablet or smartphone so they can be quickly and easily accessed throughout the day.

Write down deadlines and work schedules. Accomplished professionals may keep lists of deadlines and work schedules in their heads, but that internal list might not be so reliable while women are being treated for breast cancer. Make use of the calendar function on your smartphone or tablet to note deadlines, even setting alerts so you receive routine reminders when important dates are coming up.

Make and routinely update a to-do list. Some professional women diagnosed with breast cancer may be juggling work, treatment, and their families. Keeping a to-do list and checking items off as they’re completed can help women effectively manage such juggling acts and save time.

Set realistic goals. Breast cancer treatment can produce a host of side effects, including fatigue. So women who plan to continue working during treatment should be sure to set realistic goals that take into account the effects that treatment may have on their energy levels. If need be, delegate more tasks and ask for more help.

Many women continue working while being treated for breast cancer. A few simple adjustments can help such women overcome many treatment-related obstacles.

Updated 9:12 am, October 23, 2018
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