Here are some of the questions that may arise for you to consider.
Will you be able to return to your usual occupation?
Following any long journey with a blood cancer there will be obstacles to overcome. Some people may be able to resume the role of work they were doing prior to diagnosis while others will have to resign from their previous employment and look at learning new skills to obtain future employment. This is a very difficult time as a large percentage of people suffer from fatigue post treatment and transplant. This prevents them from working long hours. Those who have undergone a bone marrow transplant might also have to come to terms with graft versus host issues. All in all the journey post treatment is a very individual one and the return to work can present some very confronting issues.
Things to consider when looking at returning to work:
- Are you able to work full time?
- Is your current employer aware of your capabilities?
- Are you able to negotiate shorter hours if needed?
- Centrelink payment – does this affect your options?
To discuss your current benefit payments and eligibility for benefits if you return to work, contact Centrelink on 13 2717 or visit www.centrelink.gov.au.
If you do return to work, it's important to make sure that you stay in a superannuation fund that includes as much disability cover as possible and to check that contributions continue to be paid. It's also important to keep paying insurance premiums for any insurance policies with disability benefits.
Re-assessing your current role and look at other employment options
Coming to the realisation that your previous line of employment is not suitable to your level of ability is one of the most difficult hurdles to overcome. Again, support service staff at the Leukaemia Foundation can provide advice and assistance to help you explore what options are available for you to help you embrace the future. If you currently receive a benefit through Centrelink and wish to explore what other services Centrelink offers then visit www.centrelink.gov.au. Centrelink provides a Disability Employment Assistance Service that encompasses a myriad of support and information for the individual regarding job seeking and other services and programs.
Many other agencies provide guidance and assistance to help patients return to work. The Leukaemia Foundation’s support service staff can help you research these options further. Here are some helpful links to explore:
- Australian JobSearch
- Wesley Mission - Wesley Mission Employment Services supports people with disability by helping them find and maintain meaningful employment.
- Disability Employment Services
- Mission Australia - Mission Australia helps you deal with any issues that might be making it hard for you to look for work and will consider your previous work history, local opportunities, your skills and education.
Sometimes individuals are unaware of their own capabilities. Sometimes the journey has been over such a long period of time that they have had to surrender their position with their employer and are in the position of exploring alternative employment. This can be very confronting. In trying to determine how much time you can offer an employer, you may want to consider volunteering to discover your current abilities and physical stamina. The following website is an excellent place to start: http://volunteeringaustralia.org
Benefits of volunteering:
- improves self worth / self confidence;
- creates a skill base;
- establish friendships and links with the community;
- create an opportunity to explore new options and working environments;
- discover your capacity within the working environment;
- allows continuation with Centrelink payments while gaining control;
- allows awareness of fatigue management.
Returning to work can be both exciting and overwhelming. After all that time off, you may no longer feel confident that you can cope with the workplace. If you’re returning to work after a severe or long-term illness, you should do so gradually. Your illness may have made it impossible for you to continue in your former occupation. You may need to set new goals and these may be quite modest when you first start back at work. As your health and confidence improves, you can revise or build on them.
Firstly, you need to establish what you want? What are you looking for in a job? Decide if you want:
- full-time or part-time work
- paid employment or work in a voluntary sector
- work in a familiar field or in a new area
- to retrain
To plan a career, you need to know who you are. You need to have assessed your own values, interests, strengths, weaknesses, accomplishments, personal resources, and goals.
Where can you get help?
You may need only one person to talk things through with or you may prefer to enlist a whole team of people to cheer you on.
Use a professional counsellor, career or guidance officer, mentor, colleague, family member, friend, or any combination of these. Anyone who can give you objective opinions and help you feel cheerful about job hunting is useful to you.
Some organisations that you may wish to contact are:
- Skilled Australia – 1300 361 582
- Department of Employment 133 397
- Employment Plus Line 137 258
- Experience Plus Line 131 764
- Other independent employment agencies.
If you wish to pursue further studies you will need to do some research into the areas and institutions that interest you and from there explore what options are available. Initial contact should be made with the Career Guidance Officer at the chosen institution to further explore the entry requirements and application process.
There are scholarships and grants offered through some charity groups that provide opportunities for individuals to pursue further study. If you wish to explore these options please contact: