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Cancer and Work: A new interactive website

workingby Maureen Parkinson, Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor and Dr. Christine Maheu, Nurse Scientist, McGill University, Co-Principal Investigators Cancer and Work


While 60 percent of those diagnosed with cancer will return to work one to two years following treatment, 25 to 53 percent will either quit or lose their jobs. These numbers are a clear indication that there has been a need for comprehensive information to support a return to work for many cancer survivors.


A new, interactive website — — has been designed to meet this need, providing support to cancer survivors who plan to stay or return to work after a cancer diagnosis and treatment. This website provides abundant information and resources to support cancer survivors at any point in their cancer and work experience, no matter where they live.


The information is customized into three groups: for cancer patients and survivors, healthcare providers and employers. Using parallel resources that enhance communication and collaboration in addressing work-related issues, content includes topics such as impact on work, planning for a return to work, insurance and financial information, job accommodation ideas, caregiver information, legal rights and responsibilities, and much more. makes it easy to find the content and resources cancer survivors need.



The focus of the website is on providing guidance and resources to reduce barriers, challenges and financial losses that individuals dealing with cancer and their caregivers face when engaging in planning to stay at work, return to work, change work or find work. This reduction is to be attained by providing specific resources and tools to all those involved in the return to work process (cancer patients, healthcare providers, employers).


The website provides to cancer survivors, family members and professionals the knowledge and tools to take the steps to help with return work and to communicate more effectively about building return to work plans. There are also many opportunities to be informed about the legal rights and responsibilities of workers with cancer.


The Cancer and Work website was developed through a collaboration between McGill University and the B.C. Cancer Agency (the longest running provincial oncology vocational rehabilitation program in Canada) with a core team of rehabilitation specialists and researchers, in partnership with de Souza Institute (oncology educational online platform). The development of the website was made possible with financial support from Health Canada through the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.  Cancer and Work offers, under one umbrella, the knowledge and experience of Canadian experts, including health professionals in oncology and return to work from vocational rehabilitation counsellors, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, to nurses, psychologists, lawyers, union representatives, insurance representatives, and cancer survivors who have gone through the experience themselves.


“After going through it, patients and employers will each find the information extremely valuable and helpful. It will make survivorship easier for patients when they consider the many factors in returning to work.”  Sandra, cancer survivor.


While there is information focused on the Canadian context, has aimed to provide links to resources around the globe that are useful to cancer survivors everywhere. The website specifically includes interactive tools to aid in assessment and return to work planning for employees, employers and healthcare providers. It provides a deeper understanding about the roadblocks that survivors face, and how healthcare providers and employers can facilitate a successful return to work strategy.


While just recently launched in Oct 2016, is already becoming the leading Canadian resource on cancer and work. To improve the website, we are seeking readers’ feedback on the content, tools and navigation of the website to continually improve, expand and enhance. We invite you to visit the Cancer and Work website and tell us what you think




christinemaheuDr. Christine Maheu is an Associate Professor in the Ingram School of Nursing at the McGill University. She also holds a Clinical Scientist position with the Cancer Survivorship Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Toronto.  At McGill University, she teaches research, supervises graduate students (masters, doctorates, post-doctorates), mentors practicing nurses and students in research, and conducts research (in English/French). Her research is focused on cancer survivorship care with special interests in psychosocial oncology clinical interventions. Dr. Maheu is a co-principal investigator on a fear of cancer recurrence study holding funds from the Canadian Cancer Society grant. Sponsored from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC), she currently leads a team on the creation of the Cancer and Work website to address the needs of cancer survivors, health care providers and employers in return and stay at work following cancer. Additionally in partnership with IPSOS, funded by CPAC, she is co-leading a nationwide survey assessment of transition care needs of cancer patients from end of treatment to three years post diagnosis. Dr. Maheu received excellence awards in nursing research (2013, 2015, 2016) from Ovarian Cancer Canada, the Canadian Association of Nurses in Oncology and the Quebec Association of Nurses in Oncology. 



maureenparkinsMs. Maureen Parkinson M.Ed. C.C.R.C, is the province-wide vocational rehabilitation counsellor at the BC Cancer Agency. She has also been vocational rehabilitation counsellor at a public rehabilitation hospital and vocational rehabilitation consultant to insurance companies and the court system. She has instructed and facilitated Service-Canada-funded programs on job search and career exploration. Ms. Parkinson has a Masters in Counselling Psychology, is a Canadian Certified Rehabilitation Counsellor, and completed the Certified Return to Work Coordinator Program through the National Institute for Disability Management and Research. She has developed return-to-work and job-search seminars for cancer patients and created the guidebook “Cancer and Returning to Work: A Practical Guide for Cancer Patients” as well as on-line articles about returning to work and school. She also co-authored a paper commissioned by the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology, “Cancer and Work: A Canadian Perspective”.



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