by Cheryl L. Serra
Diagnosis: Cancer. Reaction: Disbelief and fear. Fear of your prognosis, the treatment, reaction of family and friends, and your financial future. How will you possibly be able to undergo treatment—or care for a loved one with cancer—and work?
A new employee benefit will soon be available to help support cancer patients in the workplace. It is designed to educate employees and managers about cancer and provide information about handling its impact in the workplace.
Johns Hopkins Medicine and BlueRush Media Group Corp., a Canadian company, are developing an online portal, Managing Cancer at Work, for companies that want to offer it as an employee benefit. In development for two years, the program is scheduled to be piloted at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore and at Stamford, CT-based Pitney Bowes by late summer.
The impetus for the portal development came from close to home, according to Terry Langbaum, chief administrative officer of the Johns Hopkins Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center. In the office in which Langbaum works, three of its nine employees were diagnosed with cancer (one of them was diagnosed twice) and two other employees lost their spouses to cancer in a period of four years. It was stressful, sad, and frightening, and it affected the functioning of the office, she says.
“We’re cancer people. We know what we’re doing. Most people out there don’t know what they’re doing when it comes to managing cancer and how to predict when people are going to be out of work and how to work with them appropriately to support them during their cancer episode yet still get the work done,” Langbaum says.
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