It is fortunate that beyond chemotherapy treatment, there are advances in medical science and the treatment of various types of cancer which have, and are, making it possible for an increasing number of people, who are diagnosed with cancer to survive or live longer with the disease. At the same time, incidents of cancer are sharply on the rise. Given that more and more people are being diagnosed with cancer, organisations cannot afford to ignore the impact that the diagnosis will have on many of their employees, the workplace, and, ultimately their bottom line.
To-date, outside of accessing appropriate treatment, very little consideration may have been given to the rest of an employee’s life, especially when it comes to coping at work. What happens when cancer survivors resume work while undergoing treatment or even once they attempt to return to “life as it was” before diagnosis? Do organisations have comprehensive guidelines, and interventions in place to support and assist employees during and after they have received a cancer diagnosis with all that this entails? The fact is, within the sphere of employee wellness there is a need for a well-formulated cancer policy in the South African workplace.
Before being diagnosed with late stage breast cancer, Addi Lang was a successful business owner and -despite being the victim of medical misdiagnosis, having inadequate medical aid cover and experiencing the debilitating side effects of chemotherapy – today Addi is an accredited cancer coach and founder of the Forever Changed Global Awareness Campaign – an initiative that aims to educate those living with cancer to rediscover how to live full and impactful lives. www.foreverchanged.co.za
In 2017, as part of their Forever Changed Global Awareness Campaign, Addi and her life partner David Salomon, launched a four-tier corporate wellness programme called “Live Life Deliberately”, accredited by South African Board for People Practices (SABPP). This programme aims to promote an open dialogue with regards to the pressing need for a comprehensive cancer policy in the workplace. Addi and David work within the HR and EAP sector to educate and further equip HR practitioners in enhancing their existing employee wellness standards to incorporate an effective, holistic cancer policy.
- educating employees about cancer prevention;
- inspiring employees to cope with a cancer diagnosis;
- re-examining how cancer is treated in the workplace;
- understanding the impact of treatment choices;
- encouraging employees to understand their health rights;
- addressing diversity and disability in the workplace;
- education in preventing the collapse of an employee upon their cancer diagnosis;
- supporting survivors; and
- incorporating laughter therapy as a stress management tool
Addi says, “Did you know, around 115000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer every year? When an employee is diagnosed with cancer, they experience a range of emotions that impacts and directly affects their lives, and in turn, not only is their work affected, but that of their colleagues and the workplace at large. Through our Live Life Deliberately programme we are striving for cancer to viewed with the same respect as HIV in terms of employee health and wellness programmes.”
“Did you know, around 115000 South Africans are diagnosed with cancer every year?” – Addi Lang, Campaign Founder and Cancer Survivor
“While many organisations have a well formulated policy in place to support employees who have been diagnosed with cancer, many do not. It is essential to create a comprehensive policy that promotes a workplace culture that embraces employees who have cancer and are undergoing their choice of treatment, as well as supporting care-givers. Providing a supportive environment during this dread disease can help build team morale, encourage greater organisational loyalty and foster a positive image of the organisation, as well as addressing the barriers that prevent employees returning to work after treatment.”
“Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress, and working together is a success.”
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