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Cancer: employer support has to go beyond “the all-clear”

Ahead of Cancer Survivors’ Day (4 June 2023)… RedArc warns that it is vital employers’ support goes beyond the all-clear, as there may be no ‘back to normal’ for cancer survivors.

Ahead of Cancer Survivors’ Day (4 June 2023)  employers are urged that support must go beyond the all-clear, as there may be no ‘back to normal’ for cancer survivors.

Cancer is one of the conditions for which added-value support via health and protection insurances is most sought. RedArc’s experience is that while people who are newly diagnosed and undergoing treatment receive support – from their family, friends, employers, and others – this is not always extended to survivors who in many cases are expected to be ‘back to normal’.

It is important for employers to recognise that many cancer survivors may need their support, long after the clinical aspects of the disease have waned. As more people survive cancer, there are an increasing number of people for whom there could be a hangover from associated treatments, long-term physical impacts and a real fear of recurrence. It’s vital that insurers and employers provide support to those who are living under the long shadow that can be cast by cancer, so that they have the people and the tools to whom they can turn in the long term.

RedArc logged the following issues, as reported by the individuals it has supported after they are considered to be free from the disease:

  • Relationship problems with partner once the cancer survivor was deemed well enough to cope.
  • A perceived indifference from friends who had been very supportive when cancer was initially diagnosed.
  • No easing-in at work – immediately thrown back in at the deep end with little return-to-work initiation or adjustments made.
  • Feelings of isolation as support from the individual’s medical team is dramatically curtailed.
  • Listlessness and lack of drive as the rollercoaster of cancer treatment is replaced by day-to-day life.
  • Monetary concerns around how a break from work has affected family finances.
  • Being continually referred to or asked to discuss cancer with others, meaning no ability to move on from the disease.
  • Living with the uncertainly about the cancer returning and not being able to determine if symptoms are significant.
  • An inability to plan ahead because of an uncertainty about what the future will hold.
  • Lack of confidence in their ability or in a change in their appearance.
  • Living with long-term physical effects of cancer treatment such as chronic fatigue, chronic pain or early menopause.

Christine Husbands commercial director for RedArc, says: “It’s a commonly held view that people who have received the all-clear should be able to put cancer behind them and have a new lease of life. It’s true to say that even people being treated for cancer hope this to the case, but the reality is often somewhat different. Even when the body is beginning to heal, the mind can still be fragile and the emotional recovery can take longer than the physical one.

“Cancer can change an individual’s life irrevocably and therefore it is vital that employers recognise this and provide for the bumps in the road that can occur in the long-term post-cancer.”

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