Testicular Cancer

Work and testicular cancer

Just over three quarters of the men interviewed here were non-manual workers. Some were only off work for a short while. For example, one was only away from his office for eight days after his orchidectomy. He had a two-week course of radiotherapy, but kept working, leaving the office about 3pm for treatment.

Many other men, however, particularly those who had radiotherapy or chemotherapy, were off work for much longer, even up to a year. One man remembered being cheered when he returned to work after six months. Three men had to retire from work early due to ill health.

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In the past, men rarely talked about testicular cancer in the work place. They were reluctant to discuss their illness with colleagues or prospective employers, and some of those who were unemployed after they had been diagnosed with cancer, felt that their illness had hampered their job possibilities.

One of the men interviewed here was diagnosed in 1967. He was sacked from his job as a teacher when the head mistress discovered he had colluded with a sympathetic doctor and hidden the fact that he had had cancer, to pass the medical examination to start his training.

One man had to wait six months for the right to normal company pension benefits. The company withheld this benefit until the doctor wrote a letter to confirm that he was cured. Another man, a university professor, resented the low academic assessment he was given the year of his illness. A manual worker felt that his manager had 'messed him around with his wages' while he was having chemotherapy, and another didn't get paid while he was off work for radiotherapy.

Some men feared discrimination. A manager, diagnosed in 1984, had a fear based on experience that if his colleagues knew that he had had cancer he might be treated differently or that he might lose out on promotion. A managing director, diagnosed in 1991, said nothing to his colleagues about his illness because he was frightened of their reaction, and a manual worker only discussed his illness with close friends.

None of the other men, however, hid the nature of their illness from their colleagues or employers. It was suggested that this openness was because testicular cancer is talked about nowadays. Some pointed out that their company would get a bad press if it were not supportive of a man with cancer.

Some men found it quite hard explaining what had happened, because colleagues felt embarrassed, but many found that colleagues were keen to know more about the disease. A few men were worried that they might lose their jobs, but when they told their colleagues about their illness they were soon reassured by the support they received.

Except for those mentioned above, all the other men felt their employers treated them well; men were given support, sympathy, time off work to recover, full pay, and promotion as expected. Some men were allowed to work from home, which made life easier for them (see also 'Financial concerns').

Last reviewed December 2017.


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