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A Legal Protection

A Bleak Picture?

Recovery after cancer can be frustratingly slow. Your body and mind might not allow you the options and freedoms they once did.  Whether due to prolonged fatigue, anxious feelings, or broken organs, you might be faced with a body that feels like it's disabling you.

This might paint a rather depressing picture. Gone are the days of drinking until the dawning sun, and dancing with abandon at gigs. Farewell to the hosting of riotous family parties, and whimsical theatre trips. Adieu competitive exercise, and hiking remote mountains.

Things improve.

It may feel like your health is a barrier to life right now, but with slow, incremental improvements survivors often begin to feel better. Perhaps there’ll be bits of you that will never be what they once were, but there’ll come a time when you look back on all this and appreciate how much better you feel.

A Protected Category

Imagine an ivy-covered English manor, or a battlement-heavy Scottish castle.

These cherished buildings are much like you.

You are now a 'protected category.'

From the moment you were diagnosed, certain protections fell into place. You became 'disabled' and under the 2010 Equality Act and you will now always have this protection if you need it.

This might sound dispiriting: you’ll be disabled… forever?

Only in the sense that you’ll be legally protected for life. Out of legislature that demands equal access for the disabled, comes some of the very few 'perks' cancer has to offer.  The government wants you to ‘fulfil your potential’; achieve your aspirations! They advise organisations to help you do just that.


This means companies go a long way to ensure their facilities are accessible to all. Not only do they provide adjustments to their services, they offer price reductions, free tickets, sometimes VIP access and upgrades.

Becoming a hermit and house-bound isn’t going to work for anyone. So venture into the world of disabled access and you’ll discover that you can do more, with less stress.

And importantly, it shows that the world really cares. They want you involved.

Work Adjustments

All these protections also apply to the world of work. 

Working With Cancer is an awesome organisation supporting survivors with one-to-one coaching and advice on returning to work. They can also work with employers to ensure the best adjustments are made for your return. Check them out!

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Jen Forrest (not verified)

I think it's difficult to accept the 'new normal' - how do you accept a new disability? xxx

HR Warrior (not verified)

Hi, this is technically inaccurate-in a mixing your metaphors kind of way.... you don’t become registered disabled, there is no such thing as registered disabled- disability is a protected characteristic, not cancer - cancer comes with its own provision under the equality act, meaning in an employment situation you don’t need to have an impairment- the mere fact you had Cancer is enough to spark the employers duty to make adjustments.
The only person who can ultimately determine whether you are disabled is a panel in an employment tribunal- the definition has to satisfy a number of criteria including being long term and materially interfering with the way you live your life basically, ironically cancer isn’t that for some people- but cancer is specifically named in the act so affords cancer survivors the same protection and right to reasonable adjustments. Hope this is helpful

SuEveHi (not verified)

Once you've had cancer, but the tumour is removed and there are no recognised metastases, are you still regarded as a person with cancer?
I really don't define myself by this. I have worked hard, physically, socially and psychologically, to recover from this episode. Yes, the rx I received impacts on my life, but it doesnt change who I am.