Working While Battling Cancer
- Congressman Steve Scalise, 57, says his chemotherapy treatment for multiple myeloma has caused his cancer to “drop dramatically,” indicating a favorable prognosis. The Congressman revealed his diagnosis in August and has undergone treatment ever since.
- In recent years, a huge number of advancements in multiple myeloma treatments have improved the lives of patients battling the disease. Veteran journalist Tom Brokaw, 83, is one such beneficiary who has taken the chemotherapy drug treatment Revlimid (generic name lenalidomide), which helps manage symptoms for longer periods. Treatment options should be further discussed with your doctor.
- Please visit SurvivorNet’s extensive myeloma resources: https://www.survivornet.com/journey/multiple-myeloma-initial-treatment/
- Cancer patients choosing to work but needing some accommodations on the job may be protected by the Rehabilitation Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, or the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
Congressman Steve Scalise, 57, says his ongoing battle with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, is trending positively. The Louisiana Congressman has remained optimistic about his efforts to fight the cancer since his diagnosis this summer. He has also remained steadfast about continuing his legislative work amid treatment, which is something many experts say is helpful for cancer patients if they are able to do so.
I have good news: After a month of aggressive treatment, tests show that the cancer in my body has already dropped dramatically.
Thank you for all your prayers—and thank God they are being answered. pic.twitter.com/neAZz74UJ3Read More— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) September 27, 2023 Scalise recently updated supporters about his ongoing cancer journey.
“Last week, I did a full round of evaluations; that’s where I was, working with my doctors and running a whole bunch of tests. The good news is that the cancer has dropped dramatically because of the success of the chemotherapy attacking the cancer,” he said during a press briefing WDSU news reports.
Scalise revealed this past August that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that develops when white blood cells called plasma cells in your bone marrow grow out of proportion to healthy cells. The abnormal cells leave less room for healthy blood cells your body needs to fight infection.
Multiple myeloma can cause symptoms such as weakness, dizziness, bone pain, and confusion, among other symptoms.
Scalise said at the time he was determined to work through treatment, which we’ve learned involves a form of chemotherapy.
In recent years, advancements in multiple myeloma treatments have improved the lives of patients battling the disease. One beneficiary is veteran journalist Tom Brokaw, 83. He received the chemotherapy drug Revlimid (generic name lenalidomide), which helps manage symptoms for longer periods. Other treatment options include Darzalex (daratumumab), a “monoclonal antibody” that essentially summons the body’s immune system to attack the cancerous cells.
Helping Patients Understand Multiple Myeloma Impacts
- Adding Sarclisa to Treatment– A Promising New Option for Relapsed Multiple Myeloma
- An Exciting Development in Delivery of Daratumumab for Multiple Myeloma
- Bone Marrow Biopsies: ‘A Vital Part of Diagnosing and Staging Multiple Myeloma’
- Can Multiple Myeloma Patients Achieve a Durable Remission After Induction Therapy & Skip or Delay a Stem Cell Transplant?
- CAR T-Cell Therapy and BiTE: Two New Approaches to Multiple Myeloma Treatment
- Diagnosis: Do I Have Multiple Myeloma?
Working During Cancer Treatment
Scalise’s willingness to continue working during cancer treatment is something many SurvivorNet experts recommend patients do if they can continue working.
“I think it creates a sense of normalcy for patients.”
If you’re able to work, you’ll be busy, and you may not be worrying all the time about how your treatment is going, Stapleton adds.
Sometimes, cancer can make you feel isolated and lonely, and being around people for work can alleviate feelings of loneliness.
It’s important for you to have a conversation with your doctor before continuing to work during treatment. Ask your physician what you can and cannot do so you don’t disrupt ongoing treatment.
Remember, sometimes cancer treatment can cause fatigue, leaving you unable to fulfill your duties as you once could.
Fortunately, some on-the-job accommodations can make working during cancer treatment much easier.
It’s important to remember people with job problems related to cancer are protected by the Rehabilitation Act or the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may also benefit others. This law allows many people with serious illnesses to take unpaid leave to get medical care or manage their symptoms.
Your human resources department should be able to share with you your options.
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.
WATCH: Will my cancer get me fired?
Laurie Ostacher, a behavioral health clinician at Stanford Health Care, recommends cancer patients 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… Because there are going to be days when you’re not as energetic or feeling as well as other days,” Ostacher explained.
Questions for Your Doctor
If you are facing a multiple myeloma diagnosis and are interested in a treatment option that Tom Brokaw successfully used, here are some questions to help you begin the conversation with your doctor:
- What stage is my multiple myeloma?
- What are my treatment options?
- Am I a good candidate for Revlimid?
- What are the possible side effects of your recommended treatment?
- Who will be part of my healthcare team, and what does each member do?
- Can you refer me to a social worker or psychologist who can help me cope with my diagnosis?