Practical matters

Prostate cancer can have an impact on everyday life. Get the facts about work, money, daily life and travel.

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Work

If you're living with and after cancer then continuing to work or returning to work can be an important way of getting back to everyday life. But not everyone is able to continue working, and some men decide to work part-time, or take early retirement.

You may need to take time off work for treatments. This includes time for travelling to hospital and in some cases time to recover. See our surgery page for information about time off after surgery. Ask your doctor or nurse for advice on how much time you will need to take off.

Side effects of treatments could affect your working day. For example, having urinary problems, hot flushes or tiredness may mean you need to take extra breaks.

Your rights at work

If you have prostate cancer then the Equality Act 2010 covers you. The Equality Act is a law that protects anyone who has, or has had, a disability - cancer is classed as a disability under this law. Even if you no longer have cancer, you are still protected against discrimination.

If you live in Northern Ireland you have protection under the Disability Discrimination Act.

Under these laws your employer has a duty to make 'reasonable adjustments' to where and how you work, to make sure that you get the same chances as the people you work with.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments include:

  • allowing you time off to attend medical appointments
  • allowing extra breaks
  • temporarily allowing you to have lighter duties
  • providing adequate toilet facilities.

You can find out more about the law and working during and after cancer treatment from Macmillan Cancer Support.

What else can help?

Let your employer know more about prostate cancer and how its impacts on you.  If you do not feel like talking about it then you could give them some of our publications to read.

Take a look at your company policies and employee handbook if you have them. Talk to your occupational health service for advice if your company has one.

Go to your employer with suggestions about what would help you. For example: taking extra breaks, working from home, flexible hours, changing your job role or duties for a while.

Know your legal rights. Find out more about the law and make sure your boss or company is aware of it. You could also contact your union if you are part of one.

If you are self-employed or if you are looking for work you can get more specific information from Macmillan Cancer Support or Disability Rights UK.

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Money

If you are struggling with the financial costs of cancer, or your income has changed you should be able to get some help.

Sick pay

If you've had time off work, find out if statutory sick pay and occupational or company sick pay are relevant to you. Check your employment contract or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau - their number should be in the phone book or on their website citizensadvice.org.uk. You can get information from the official government websites - GOV.UK and nidirect.gov.uk

Benefits

As a result of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 the benefits system will be changing over the next few years. The organisations listed below can give you the latest information about the help you can get.

The benefits you are entitled to vary depending on whether you are working, how old you are and other factors. Find out more about benefits and how to apply for them.

Grants

Grants from other charities or organisations are available. Contact your local Citizen's Advice Bureau - they offer free, independent, confidential and impartial advice. Their number should be in the phone book or on their website citizensadvice.org.uk

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Getting help at home

Some men with prostate cancer have told us that they had difficulty carrying out their usual activities. This could be because of side effects, symptoms like pain, or because they are not as mobile as they used to be.

If you think you could do with some extra help in the home, get in touch with your GP or local council and ask about social services (social work department in Scotland) to see if they can give you some advice or support.

You can ask social services to assess your needs - and the needs of your carer, if you have one.  For example, this assessment will consider:

  • equipment or adaptations to your home
  • help at home, for example with getting dressed, cooking or tasks like housework or shopping
  • breaks away from home for you or anyone who is caring for you.

Health and social care professionals who can help

Your local social services department can refer you to an occupational therapist (OT). They can help you overcome any practical problems that you might have and help you live as independently as possible. They can assess whether you need help at home or work and give advice about equipment or adaptations to the home.

A social worker can give you advice about practical issues such as money, work and things to make day-to-day living easier. Your GP, nurse or hospital doctor could also arrange for you to meet an OT or social worker.

Driving and public transport

The Blue Badge Scheme helps people park closer to their destination if they are disabled and find it very hard to walk. Contact your local council for details.

The Motability Scheme can help you lease or buy a car if you get certain benefits. Even if you don't drive yourself, you can apply for a car as a passenger and propose up to two other people as your drivers. You could also be eligible to get help to adapt a car you already have to make it more suitable. To find out more call Motability on 0845 456 4566.

If you use public transport you might get discounts and free travel. Contact your local council for more details. To find your local council contact details:

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Travel and travel insurance

If you're planning a holiday your cancer could affect things like where you go and how long you go away for. This shouldn't stop you from travelling but it may affect what you need to take with you and the sort of things you do while you're away.

Some of the things you might want to think about are listed below. You can also read our Travel timeline for tips on preparing for your trip.

Your treatment and the way you're feeling

  • If you need to have new vaccinations, check with your doctor that it's safe for you to have them.
  • Radiotherapy treatment may make your skin more sensitive to the sun. This might affect where you go and the things you do on holiday.
  • Chemotherapy can weaken your immune system, making it easier for you to pick up infections. You may need to take extra care of your health on holiday.
  • If you've had brachytherapy you could set off airport radiation sensors. Ask your doctor for an advice card saying you've had treatment with internal radiation. Take this with you, especially when travelling by air.
  • Having cancer - and treatments such as surgery, hormone therapy and chemotherapy - may increase your risk of getting a blood clot, especially when flying. Speak to your doctor or nurse about this.

Travelling with your medication

  • Ask your doctor for a letter saying what your medicines are for.
  • Carry information about your condition, medicines and treatments in case you need to see a doctor while you're away.
  • Make sure you have enough medicine to last your entire trip - and some extra in case of emergencies.
  • Check if you need a special license to travel with your medicines.
  • Some airlines have special rules about transporting prescription medicines. Before you travel, check whether you need to make any special arrangements for transporting your medicine.
  • Check if you need to store your medicines in any special conditions, for example a cool bag or fridge?
  • Keep a list of the proper names (not just the brand names) and doses of your medicines in case you need to get more.

What to pack and other arrangements

  • If you have urinary problems and use pads, make sure you pack enough for your trip and a few extra in case of delays.
  • If you use a catheter, take a spare one and plenty of extra drainage bags or catheter valves with you.
  • If you're travelling to a non-English speaking country, it might be a good idea to have your medical documents translated.
  • If you need a wheelchair, access to a toilet or a special meal for your journey, ask your travel company to sort this out before you travel.

Getting healthcare abroad

  • Apply for a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) if you don't already have one. This allows you to have medical treatment in most European countries for free, or at a lower cost.
  • The EHIC does not always cover the full cost of treatment and it does not cover everything.
  • Buy travel insurance that covers any problems you might have while you're away.

Tips for getting travel insurance

If you're travelling abroad, it's a good idea to buy travel insurance before your trip. Travel insurance covers the cost of things that go wrong while you're away. For example, you might lose your suitcase or have to cancel your holiday. It can also cover the cost of any medical treatment that isn't covered by the EHIC, so it's very very important to get travel insurance, even if you're staying in Europe.

  • Look up the cost of your travel insurance before booking your trip as the insurance for some destinations is more expensive than others.
  • Get quotes from high street companies as well as insurance brokers and specialist companies.
  • Make sure you know exactly what you're covered for, and what you're not covered for.
  • Macmillan Cancer Support provides a list of travel insurance companies and brokers that might be useful. This list is updated every six months but insurance companies change their policies often so you may want to look into other companies as well.

Read our online fact sheet: Travel and prostate cancer, for more information about planning a holiday and tips for sorting out travel insurance.

Read our Specialist Nurses’ tips on travelling with prostate cancer or other prostate problems.

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