Updated 14 August 2014

Empowering cancer patients in the workplace

Campaigning for Cancer has announced its new Cancer@Work Programme which is aimed at helping cancer patients and their employers to understand their rights and obligations and the cancer journey.

Campaigning for Cancer announced its new Cancer@Work Programme which is aimed at helping cancer patients and their employers to understand their rights and obligations and the cancer journey.

The Cancer@Work Programme will help employees diagnosed with cancer and their supervisors and managers to proactively manage the challenges faced in the workplace when dealing with a cancer diagnosis.

Campaigning for Cancer has collaborated with key stakeholders to develop a written Cancer@Work Programme, the first of its kind in South Africa, which offers employer and employee workshops, step-by-step guides on handling cancer in the workplace and access to resources with information about legal rights relating to employment, step-by-step guides explaining the journey of a cancer patient for employees, co-workers and the employers that will encourage open dialogue amongst colleagues.

"As part of Campaigning for Cancer’s aim to lobby for the promotion and protection of the rights of patients and those affected by cancer, the larger Cancer@Work Programme will guide a company in establishing and implementing a cancer policy in the work place and help us to gather important data regarding how cancer is viewed in South African workplaces," said Campaigning for Cancer CEO, Lauren Pretorius.

"The first step in helping South African employers and employees exercise their rights afforded to them by our country’s laws and constitution, is by providing them with access to information that is reliable and easy to understand," commented Bradley Workman-Davies, Director in the Employment Practice Area at Werksmans Attorneys and co-author of the Cancer@Work Programme.

Lost productivity

In 2000, in the United State of America, it was estimated that lost productivity, valued with the human capital approach, was estimated to be $115.8bn. If cancer mortality rates remain constant at 2000 levels, this will increase to $147.6bn by 2020. These  statistics do not  reflect  the full  impact that a cancer diagnosis can have on the economy and are considered  "conservative" estimates.

"The burden of cancer in South Africa is incredibly high and we don’t know the size of the adverse impact on the workplace in South Africa, how the burden of disease is affecting the workplace and the exact costs associated with this," says Pretorius.

Recognising that your business plays a role in the larger cancer treatment process is an important step in supporting cancer care.

Campaigning for Cancer’s Cancer@Work Company Partnership Programme is your companion in this effort. It guides employers through the entire cancer care journey, pointing out where your input, your action, and your understanding can help both the employee and you, the employer, when an employee is diagnosed with cancer.

One in six South African men and one in eight South African women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. This translates into approximately 80 000 deaths per year in South Africa (which amounts to a full soccer or rugby stadium).

Cancer is the great equalizer of our time: It knows no boundaries of class, race, gender, sex, age or employment status. It can strike anyone at any time... and it does!

About Campaigning For Cancer

Campaigning for Cancer is an advocacy organisation that was formed in 2008 to give South African patients and those affected by cancer a voice.

Campaigning for Cancer strives for a South Africa where people affected by cancer receive fair, appropriate, timeous and respectful treatment and care by lobbying for the promotion and protection of the rights of patients and those affected by cancer with regard to policy, healthcare costs and healthcare delivery.

This is done on an individual level – changing one life at a time – by providing people with the knowledge and tools to see their treatment process through; as well as on a larger scale – by noting issues highlighted by these individual cases and lobbying for policy change that will affect all of society. For more information, please visit

Campaigning for Cancer collaborates with corporate law firm, Werksmans Attorneys, in a "walk together" approach of active engagement around cancer patients’ healthcare rights and healthcare law in general.  For more information, please visit

Denied cancer treatment? Phone the Ask Now Call Centre on 0861 275 669 (0861 ASK NOW) for help.

 - (Campaigning for Cancer press release)

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CANSA’s purpose is to lead the fight against cancer in South Africa. Its mission is to be the preferred non-profit organisation that enables research, educates the public and provides support to all people affected by cancer. Questions are answered by CANSA’s Head of Health Professor Michael Herbst and Head of Advocacy Magdalene Seguin. For more information, visit

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