Working Through Cancer Treatment
- Cincinnati news anchor Courtis Fuller had rare malignant chordoma tumor removed from the base of his skull.
- Chordoma is a rare type of bone cancer that occurs most often in the bones of the base of the skull or bottom of the spine.
- According to the National Cancer Institute, one in 1 million people are diagnosed with chordoma per year.
- There are people who can continue to work during cancer treatment, and those who need to take some time away. Doctors recommend returning to work if possible, as it helps cancer patients regain a sense of normalcy.
- Some people with job problems related to cancer are protected by the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s great to be back,” Fuller said when he made his on-air return over the weekend.Read More
Fuller underwent surgery to remove the tumor but admits he’s still on the road to a full recovery. After the surgery and initial treatment, the news veteran and cancer survivor expressed his gratitude for the support he received from community supporters and his news colleagues.
“I thank God the surgery was successful to remove the tumor. I’m still facing a battery of tests and treatments but overall, I feel great. I am grateful to everyone for their prayers and kindness over the past few months,” Fuller told WVXU.
Understanding Chordoma Tumors
Chordoma is a rare type of bone cancer that occurs most often in the bones at the base of the skull or bottom of the spine, according to Mayo Clinic.
This type of cancer grows slowly and occurs most often in adults between 40 and 60 years old.
According to the National Cancer Institute, one in 1 million people are diagnosed with chordoma per year.
Symptoms associated with chordoma can include headaches or double vision if the tumor is located at the base of the skull, such as Fuller’s tumor. If the tumor is near the tailbone, you could experience pain down your legs and have trouble controlling your bladder or bowels.
Surgery followed by radiation are the usual treatment methods for chordoma, although radiation may be used alone if surgery is not possible.
Courtis Fuller’s Homecoming
Upon Fuller’s return to air, many of his colleagues shared gracious comments to have the news veteran back among them.
“It’s been an exciting day welcoming back our friend! It is an honor to sit beside this guy and learn from him” Jatara McGee wrote in a Twitter post.
It’s been an exciting day welcoming back our friend @CourtisWLWT! It is always an honor to sit beside this guy and learn from him. Join us for one last show at 11pm on @WLWT. pic.twitter.com/fs2s0nHfxv
— Jatara McGee WLWT (@jatara_) April 2, 2023
“Our friend Courtis Fuller is back tonight on WLWT after a few months off the air. We’ve all missed you friend!” Sheree Paolello shared in a Facebook post.
Fuller will still be dealing with ongoing treatment. His return to work highlights the dilema that so many survivors face: to go back to work or not.
There are people who can continue to work during cancer treatment, and those who need to take some time away. The reality is — it really depends on the person, their individual cancer, and the treatment.
People who work in the oncology field — doctors and social workers — have told SurvivorNet that they absolutely recommend working during cancer treatment, if you can, because work can really establish a sense of normalcy in a person’s life. Not only does it provide a needed source of income, it reminds you that you have a life apart from cancer – as a valued employee, a great boss, or a trusted co-worker.
A work life also encourages regular contact with others. Sometimes cancer can make you feel isolated and lonely, and being around people can be a great comfort.
Know Your Rights
Some people with job problems related to cancer are protected by the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act. Others may also benefit from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), a law that allows many people with serious illnesses take unpaid leave to get medical care or manage their symptoms. Talk to someone in your human resources department or another workplace expert to find out what your options are.
In some situations, employers must accommodate a qualified applicant or employee with a disability unless the employer can show it would be an undue hardship to do so. This could mean making changes to work schedules, equipment, or policies. Find out more about job accommodations and employment of people with limitations from the Job Accommodation Network.
Laurie Ostacher, a behavioral health clinician recommends cancer warriors talk with their employer about accommodations they may need upon returning to work.
“Patients need to let their employer know [they’re] going to need some flexibility around that. Because there are going to be days when you’re not as energetic or feeling as well as other days,” Ostacher explained.
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