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I'm 63 in May,  last September I had open surgery on my Right lung which I'm told was all successful.. I'm stil feeling extremely tired & unable to do the things I like to do.. like dance the night away & swimming the energy just isn't there.. I'm waiting for another CT scan in June for the left side as I've been told I also have cancer in my left lung..I'm single & as silly as it seems I'm better off financially not going to work.. I'm sure I will miss the company.. but would consider volunteering it I'm better off not working.. I've worked all my life since I was 15 & I must admit I was looking forward to retirement.. I'm also feeling very angry to think I've worked so hard & now I get help with my bills & more money to myself.. so I guess my question is will I have to go back to work? Hope you can help me I get angry at the thought of going back!! And believe it or not I'm a carer/ Support worker 

Hope someone can help me!! Please!!

  • Hello  

    Thank you for your question. My name is Polly, and I am a work support adviser on the Macmillan support line.

    I am sorry to hear about your continuing health problems. It is likely that these will influence your ability to do your job. For example, following surgery it is unlikely that you will be well enough to work for some time and if the cancer diagnosis causes severe fatigue, then you will not be able to do long shifts or manual handling. It is reassuring to hear that you are getting support with your rent and your council tax. This must take a lot of pressure off you.

    When cancer patients are thinking about their future at work the starting point is to speak to your health team or your GP. You can have a confidential conversation about your thoughts on your ability to work and they can offer an opinion.  

    It is likely that medical opinion will be against you working now.

    Where you are too ill to do your job, you can either resign or the employer can dismiss you on health grounds. This is a no-fault dismissal.

    There is always a choice to work -this is fundamental- no one can force you to work. However, you need to think about the following points because the decision to resign from work can have impacts. If you are dismissed for health reasons, then it does not have the same impact.


    We always advise the following to those who are weighing up their options:

    1. We suggest that you do not resign until you have considered all the options. For example, if you work for a local authority or the NHS (even in the past) then you may have the option to access your work pension. You will also need advice on whether resignation will have an impact on your benefit entitlement because you are still classed as working age until you get to state retirement age. You can have a confidential chat with our advisers on the Welfare rights team and the Financial guides on the Macmillan support line to discuss these questions. Please have a look at – Help with the cost of Cancer.
    2. If you are dismissed from work for health reasons, then you may be entitled to payment of statutory notice. This figure is calculated on your length of service. You receive one week pay for each complete year you have worked for the same employer continuously up to a maximum of 12 weeks’. This figure is affected by what is written in your contract. Please see the ACAS Website for more information. If you resign you are not entitled to be paid for your notice period unless you work or continue to be entitled to sick pay. If the employer is going to dismiss you then you need to remain on sick leave and not return to work.
    3. As you weigh up your options it is important to think about your rights under the Equality Act 2010 or the Disability Discrimination Act (if you live in Northern Ireland). Cancer is a recognised disability, so you are protected from discrimination and the employer is under a legal obligation to make reasonable adjustments to help you at work. This could mean lighter duties or shorter hours. The big advantages of working are social contact, remaining active, earning power and mental stimulation. If you want to ask for adjustments this might make work better for you because you will have an element of control over your hours and your duties and you can focus on improving your health. Please have a look at our booklet- Work and Cancer.

    I can appreciate that this is a complicated decision so please reach out and talk to us on the Macmillan support line. We are happy to help.


    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