Dealing with practical issues after cancer

After any serious illness, people may face practical problems. 
Practical problems you may face include:
This section describes specific issues and suggestions about who to contact for help.Use this information in whatever way works best for you. You can read it from beginning to end. Or you can just refer to the sections you need.
If you do not understand something that has been written or if you have any questions, you can call our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 and speak in confidence with a cancer nurse. 

Financial issues 

A diagnosis of cancer can sometimes bring the added burden of financial worries. Our booklet Managing the Financial Impact of Cancer can help you and your family if you are worried about money.
The booklet has information on:
  • Benefits you may be entitled to from the Department of Social Protection and the Health Service Executive (HSE). 
  • Tax relief and waivers
  • How to appeal social welfare decisions
  • What to do if you are in financial difficulty
  • How to cope with financial stress

Read our guide  Managing the Financial Impact of Cancer or call the National Cancer Helpline on 1800 200 700 to ask for a free print copy or to discuss your worries. 

If you do have financial difficulties, life can appear bleak. But remember you should not worry about your financial circumstances on your own. Where possible, seek out a listening and sympathetic ear from friends, family or a healthcare professional. Often there are solutions and options that may not be immediately obvious to you. You can also call the National Cancer Helpline on 1800 200 700 or visit a Daffodil Centre to talk in private. 
There are also other organisations that can help you through this stressful time.
Citizens Information: Their staff can give very clear information about what you may be entitled to and advise you. They have offices located all around the country and can be contacted at 0761 07 4000. They also have a helpful website. 
MABS: The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) is also a very useful service if you find yourself in serious financial trouble and need help to budget and sort out your finances.  MABS will meet you to help you make a financial plan. They can be contacted at 0761 07 2000 or by email:

Returning to work after cancer treatment

When you have finished cancer treatment, you may expect to go back to your old way of life and return to work straight away. But everyone reacts differently and some people can feel tired for a year or more after their treatment ends.
It is important to be realistic about what you can manage and to look after yourself at this time. Do not pretend that you are fine if really you are not. 
Cancer can also have a powerful emotional effect. If you have strong emotions, you might need to take a few months after your treatment has finished to adjust to what has happened. For more information, see our section on emotional effects.
Many people are keen to get back to work as soon as possible because it means they are getting back to ‘normal’ and that they are over their cancer. If you can, plan to return to work gradually.
Most employers will help you to start back to work part-time and build up to full-time hours. 

Possible challenges you may face if you go back to work:

Fatigue (tiredness) 

If you find that going back to work is making you feel very tired, it can help to talk to your employer or human resource manager. Some people find that tiredness is mild and does not interfere with their work. Others find it has a greater impact. For example, you may find it hard to concentrate or make decisions. This can affect the quality of your work. Our booklet Coping with Fatigue has useful tips on managing fatigue in the workplace.  You can also call  our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 to ask for a print copy. 

Other people’s reactions

You may find that your colleagues will have different reactions to you when you go back to work. Some people may have no idea what to say and may act like nothing has happened to you. Others may be afraid of hurting you so they will avoid saying anything at all.

People may also ask you questions that you’re not ready to answer. Our guide Who Can Ever Understand? Talking About Your Cancer has been written to help you find ways to talk about your cancer. 

You can call our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700 to ask for a free print copy. You may also find it useful to read our section on coping with feelings after cancer.

Life insurance and cancer

Trying to get a new life insurance policy can be difficult if you have had any type of cancer in the past. Even though life insurance can be hard to get, it is not impossible. Your chances of getting life insurance cover depend greatly on the type, stage and grade of your cancer. The treatments you may have received, when you finished them and how likely it is that you will recover from your cancer (your prognosis) may also affect the insurance company’s decision.
Companies that offer life insurance are still very cautious about doing business with someone who has had a cancer diagnosis. It seems there are no definite guidelines when it comes to providing life insurance for people in this situation. Each application is looked at on an individual basis. Most insurers will not offer a policy to someone who is still having treatment for cancer.
It is best to begin your application right away if you are thinking of purchasing a property or want to get life insurance. In some cases it may take 2 to 3 years or more after a cancer diagnosis to get insurance.

For more information on life insurance, including the best way to go about making an application, read our guide to Life Insurance and Cancer.

Travel insurance

The purpose of having travel insurance is to compensate you for anything that may go wrong while you are away. It can be more difficult for people who have had cancer to get travel insurance to cover these costs.
If you have had cancer, insurance companies may consider that you are more likely to make a claim for medical expenses than other people. The ability to get travel insurance and how much it will cost can vary a lot and can be influenced by the type of cancer you had and how long ago it was.
Insurance companies will ask questions to find out how likely it is that you will make a claim. The company will then consider how much risk they are prepared to take if they insure you. If an insurer feels that you are too high a risk of making a claim, they may not offer to cover you. It is a good idea to find out about travel insurance before you book your holiday. 

For more information on travel insurance, including hints and tips on looking for travel insurance, read our guide to Travel Insurance and Cancer

Date Last Reviewed: 
Friday, November 27, 2015