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Returning to Work

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The changes that accompany a brain or spine tumor affect whether a person can return to work. 

Credit: iStock

A brain or spine tumor and treatment side effects can cause changes to 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 may affect whether a person can return to work. 

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

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

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. 

Every baby step in the recovery process gets me closer to what I want to do with my life, including traveling and returning to work full time.

Jen, Ependymoma Survivor

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Tips When Returning to Work

  • 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 fewer hours and increasing your hours 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 steps. 
  • 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 how it feels 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, such as your new goals and priorities. 


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Alvina's Quick Tips:

Stress Management

When you feel overwhelmed and stressed, NCI-CONNECT Health and Wellness Counselor Alvina Acquaye-Mallory says your can learn ways to take control. Watch video

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