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A Battle of Employment

Updated: May 12, 2022

By Jennifer Park, APPA Youth Intern

As the research on cancer progresses, studies have expanded to include specific cancer-related topics, including the effects it has on women’s lifestyles. Personally, due to my volunteer experience in a hospice, caring for terminally ill patients has been something I experience on a regular basis. My experience with patients, which includes cancer patients, has personally changed my outlook on life. While observing the interactions between patients, staff, and families, I was astonished at the continuous presence of hope and joy despite the difficult situations everyone was in. However, my research on cancer has allowed for me to further understand the situations cancer patients are in, which has increased my ability to empathize with the hospice patients.

Cancer is a disease that causes the cells in a patient’s body to divide uncontrollably. Due to technological advances in medicine, cancer has been detected earlier and people have had more access to medical care. There are also cancer treatment methods, including surgery and chemotherapy, but a direct cure is currently unavailable.

Moreover, there are many diverse types of cancer that may affect a person. The type of cancer most common in women is breast cancer, with statistics from the National Cancer Institute that states that 12.9% of women born in the US will develop breast cancer. Furthermore, according to the World Cancer Research Fund, about 25% of all cancers in women are breast cancer, and it is the 5th most common cause of death in women.

Overall, cancer is a discovery that can change women’s lives either positively or negatively, especially in the workforce. Surprisingly, patients prefer to continue to work despite their cancer diagnosis. This is due to employment providing the patient with something consistent.

Therefore, it is not only a source of income but also impactful to the patient’s mental health. However, it has proven to be challenging for women to secure jobs during and after their diagnosis of cancer. The more accommodating the employer is, the more likely it is for them to keep their jobs, but it has been established that women with lower income jobs tend to have less accommodating employers. Therefore, according to a study made by Health Affairs, twenty to thirty percent of women lose their jobs once they are diagnosed with cancer, leaving them without health insurance or employment. Due to the Americans with Disabilities Act, it would be harder for women with higher paying jobs to lose their jobs. Specifically, the ADA states that employers cannot discriminate against their employees who disclose their diagnosis. While the act seems to be a beneficial security measure, it mostly affects women with higher-income jobs, due to it only applying to employment with more than 15 people. Therefore, not only is there discrimination present against those afflicted with diseases but also financial wise. However, an occupation not only provides a source of income but is also beneficial to the patient’s mental health, as it provides the patient with something consistent. As a result, cancer continues to be a life-changing adjustment to women even after consistent technological advancements are pursued.

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