• THOUSAND OAKS, CaliforniaAn online survey of the impact of cancer on the careers and working environment of patients revealed strong support from employers, with 75% to 79% granting time off for doctor's appointments and allowing flexible work schedules and tele-commuting. Co-workers also provided support with random acts of kindness and donated vacation time. Nevertheless, 20% of patients said they missed a scheduled treatment due to work-related conflict; 50% said they missed or postponed at least three appointments.
The survey, conducted by Amgen in collaboration with the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and The Wellness Community, is part of an overall "Breakaway from Cancer" initiative to raise awareness of and increase support for free services and programs that help cancer patients and their caregivers.
The official spokesperson for the Breakaway from Cancer campaign is Patrick Dempsey, "Dr. McDreamy" in the ABC television series Grey's Anatomy. In his new role, Mr. Dempsey will help to raise awareness and funds for the Breakaway campaign. "My mother is a two-time survivor of ovarian cancer," he said.
More than 1,000 patients and caregivers participated in the survey; 61% of patients worked full time while undergoing treatment, as did 64% of caregivers. Two-thirds of patients said that work helped them maintain emotional stability during treatment, and 34% said they continued to work because they wanted to, not because they had to. However, 33% said they could not leave their job because they might not be able to get health insurance elsewhere.