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Having a partner or family member who contributes to the household financially and is being treated for advanced prostate cancer can be a troubling prospect for you, as well as him. Even if you also work, you may face the additional pressure of juggling your work schedule with his doctor and treatment appointments, or caring for him when he feels the effects of treatment. Being as prepared as possible and understanding the rights of someone undergoing cancer treatment may help empower you and help you provide more support for him.
What You Can Do
You can join your loved one in talking with his doctor about what symptoms or side effects might be expected during treatment, so you can plan your schedules accordingly. Encourage your partner to meet with the human resources department or his supervisors at work to find out what benefits and rights are available to him as an employee with cancer. Federal laws are in place to protect people with cancer in the workplace.
Protection from Discrimination
If you also work outside the home, you may have to put up a stop or yield sign at certain times to care for your loved one with advanced prostate cancer. But there are also federal laws that protect family members who need time off to care for someone with cancer. For example, you are covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) to take up to 12 weeks off if your company employs at least 50 people and you have worked for at least 1,250 hours during a 12 month period. Since this time does not have to be taken consecutively, you can plan to take days for his doctor appointments or treatments.
You may also be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prevents an employer with at least 15 employees from discriminating against you because your relative has cancer. You can find out more about workplace laws on the Internet. For more information visit the Web sites:
- United States Department of Labor (http://www.dol.gov/compliance/guide/)
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (http://www.eeoc.gov/laws/statutes/adaaa_notice.cfm)
Further, many employers will allow you to use accumulated sick, personal or vacation days to take time to care for a family member or partner with cancer.