The diagnosis of cancer can cause most, if not all, people to undergo significant adjustments in managing relationships with their friends, family and co-workers. Some may find it difficult to relate to people around them, for fear of being treated differently. Many find themselves having to depend on their family members and friends during the treatment and recovery periods – and this may be particularly difficult for those who have been physically and/or emotionally independent all their lives. This period of adjustment can cause much frustration and anxiety for everyone.
Besides relationship adjustments, you may also worry about whether you will be able to continue working during or after treatment. Cancer treatment can be costly, and you may have to think about whether you can afford the medical bills and support your family financially if you stop working. Other work-related struggles or problems you may encounter can include:
What you need to look out for
Everyone copes with problems differently, but you may want to approach your healthcare team for advice if you experience any of the following:
What you can do
Although relationships and work can be challenging to manage, they often play an integral part in the journey of survivorship after cancer. Wholesome relationships with family and friends help survivors better manage the many challenges that cancer brings e.g. physical, psychological and socio-economic, and are key to the happiness and quality of life of many. Work (if possible), can similarly be beneficial to survivors, beyond the financial aspects. It provides an avenue for survivors to maintain or improve their skills and social interactions, as well as meaningfully contribute back to society.
Here are some tips to help you better manage your social and work life after a cancer diagnosis:
Coping with adjustments at home
Coping with adjustments to social interactions
Coping with adjustments at work
Going back to work
When to call your cancer care team
Please inform your doctor or nurse if you are distressed with any of the issues stated above. If you are a patient with NCCS, you may also call
+65 6436 8417 or
+65 6436 8088 to book an appointment to speak to an NCCS medical social worker/ clinical psychologist. Do note that you should not be refused employment due to your illness. If you think you are being treated unfairly, you may contact
Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) for advice. Read more about returning to work after you have completed treatment here.
The above contents are made available as part of TEMASEK FOUNDATION-ACCESS (Accessible Cancer Care to Enable Support for Survivors) PROGRAMME, a holistic care programme to support cancer patients during their care and recovery journey.
The contents have been approved by the Cancer Education Information Service, National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), for people with cancer and their families and caregivers. However, this information serves only as a guide and should not be used as a substitute for medical diagnosis, treatment or advice. For specific medical conditions, please seek expert medical advice from your healthcare team.
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