How to Juggle Work When Dealing With a Chronic Illness

Search with Ctrl + F Last updated: 2022-08-14

When dealing with a chronic illness or disease, such as cancer, it can be hard to balance everyday life and responsibilities—especially a job. While some may be able to push through, the case may not be the same for others. Chronic illnesses can take over your life and cause a lot of fatigue, making it seem impossible to go on with day-to-day activities.

Whether you decide to continue working or take time off to rest, it’s important to know your rights as an employee. Unfortunately, many people stay at their jobs because they simply can’t afford to take time off and need health coverage. 

Federal laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (DA) protect employees from losing their jobs due to a disability or illness. Under this law, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with a qualifying illness. Reasonable work accommodation are any changes to an employee’s job, job function or job environment that help the employee perform their job adequately. This can include flexible work schedules, opportunities to work from home or time off for appointments. 

If you are struggling with a chronic illness or are working with cancer, it’s important to communicate your diagnosis to your employer so they can come up with reasonable accommodations and a work plan of action. 

The visual guide below gives tips on how to communicate with your manager and co-workers, as well as tips to help you juggle work responsibilities even when facing a diagnosis. 

Source: The Mesothelioma Center at