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Returning to Work

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A tumor in the brain or spine and treatment side effects can cause changes to many different body functions, such as vision, speech, understanding, memory, movement, mobility, and balance. Many brain tumor patients also have seizures and other treatment side effects that can be temporary or permanent. Such changes can affect whether a person can return to work.

Talk to your health care team when considering returning to work. Talk about how you’re feeling and functioning to ensure going back to work is right for you. Ask them:

  • When they would recommend you return to work
  • If you should start part-time
  • What restrictions they have
  • If a referral to rehab services or therapy would help you return to work

Talk to your employer and human resources department to find out what resources are available for sick leave, long-term disability, and other assistance you may need. 

I don’t dwell on the fact that I have an inoperable brain tumor. I continue to stay busy with work and spend quality time with my family. I live a full life despite my brain tumor.

Lawrence, Pineal Region Tumor Survivor

Tips When Returning to Work

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To Do List

Download and create your own list of things that need to be completed.

  • Ask your employer what resources are available to help you return to work. You may be able to transition to a different position or adjust your workload, schedule, or environment.
  • Talk with your employer about flexibility. For example, you could start by working less hours and increase as your health improves.
  • Find a trusted coworker to check in with if you are having a difficult time, need a break, or need to go home.
  • Start slowly and be honest with yourself about what you’re able to do. Some tasks may take you longer to complete, so break them into smaller tasks.
  • Try to pace yourself and prioritize your time. Make a daily or weekly list of things that need to be completed with deadlines.
  • Be aware of what it feels like when you’re overextending yourself. Schedule small breaks throughout the day to help your body recharge.

Don’t be discouraged if you are unable to return to work. This gives you time to focus on other things, like what your goals and priorities are now.


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