Struggling at work

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Hi, I am in remission of bowel cancer and due to have my next review this month. I have been back to work for 12 months but am really struggling with anxiety and am on the sick . My job is very stressful and I’m struggling what to do. I’ve been to the doctors and they have upped my medication . Can you please point me in the right direction. 

  • Hi Humbug

    My name is Linda and I am one of the Work Support Advisers on our National Support Line. My team provides guidance on your rights at work when you are affected by cancer and hopefully, we can guide you with next steps and the support you require at work. Apolgies for the delay in responding to your question.

    I am pleased to hear that you are in remission from your bowel cancer but sorry to hear that you are struggling with anxiety. Do you feel that your anxiety is linked to your Cancer diagnosis ?


    As a Cancer patient you do have protection from disability discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 (or Disability Discrimination Act 1995 if you live in Northern Ireland).  Both Acts define cancer automatically as a disability, which means anyone diagnosed with cancer is considered to be disabled.  Under the Acts, providing your employer is aware of your diagnosis, you should not be discriminated against because of it. Your employer is duty-bound to make reasonable adjustments to support you either to remain at work or to return to work if you have had a period of absence.  Importantly, this protection is lifelong and does not depend upon an active cancer diagnosis.

    You could ask as a reasonable adjustment to have lighter duties at work to help you cope better or an alternative job role which may not be quite as stressful for you. You can also ask to be referred to Occupational Health. I have provided more information on this below.


    Occupational Health

    It is normal practice for an employer to request an occupational health report when an employee has been on long term sick, particularly if they are about to return to work or if they are on  ‘phased return’. Employees are often asked for permission to access medical records. Advice from occupational health should help an employer understand whether they are likely to return to work. It should also tell them whether any reasonable adjustments should be made to support someone in their return to work.

    Here is a link to the NHS website that explains their work:


    It is important to have an open conversation with your Manager to explain why you are struggling at work and to ask what support they can offer you to allow you to remain in work.

    Our publication “Your Rights At Work” explains more about the Acts and how you are protected in the workplace.

    I do hope this has answered your question but do not hesitate to get back in touch if you require any further support.

    Kind Regards


    Work Support Advisor

    Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email

  • Hi Linda, thank you for your support . My job role is stressful and I’m due for my six monthly cancer follow up this month. My employer contacted me today to ask me how I am. We’ve had an honest discussion and I’ve decided to go back to work on Monday next week. My family are very supportive and one of our daughters who is in senior management has given me a different thought process. I’m hoping I can work through my imposter syndrome. I’ve fought cancer in a positive way so surely I can conquer another challenge. I will keep you posted. Kindest regards