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Employment after a brain tumour diagnosis

Staying in, returning to, or looking for employment after a brain tumour diagnosis can be quite a challenge – for people who have a brain tumour and for people caring for them.

On this page we’ll look at working after a brain tumour diagnosis. We’ll look at what your work days might be like as well as possible changes to how you work.

Can you work if you have a brain tumour?

Receiving a brain tumour diagnosis is a life-changing event that often has a far-reaching effect on your ability to stay in employment or find a job in the future.

You might need to take a significant amount of time off work for appointments, treatment and recovery. It can also be much harder to work in the same way as before because of side-effects caused by the tumour or its treatment – for example, unmanageable fatigue or cognitive difficulties.

Many people have to give up work entirely, change jobs, or reduce their hours or duties. If a partner is acting as a carer, their work may be affected too. As a result, financial difficulties are common for families affected by a brain tumour.

It’s completely normal to worry about the potential financial impact of your diagnosis or feel anxious about how your employer will react to the situation. Many people in our community also speak about the loss of identity and purpose that work can provide.

Simply being aware of your employment rights can help you feel less anxious about the situation. The resources below have been developed to help you understand your rights and make sure you:

  • receive equal or more positive treatment at work
  • receive equal or more positive treatment when job hunting
  • aren’t discriminated against because of your condition.
Mark running at a fundraising event

I was told I had to stop working in my current role and was placed into an alternative office-based role.

Employment and brain tumours: helpful resources

Our employment resources can help you decide whether to tell your employer about your diagnosis and guidance on how you might have that conversation. There are also suggestions of “reasonable adjustments” that could be made by your employer to help you to stay in employment.

Much of the information is also applicable for those caring for somebody living with a brain tumour. There is also a resource specifically for employers to help them understand their responsibilities and how they can better support you.

Our Employment resources have received commendation by the British Medical Association (the professional body for doctors in the UK) in the BMA Patient Information Awards.

Our experienced Benefits and Money Advisor providing advice over the phone to someone affected by a brain tumour

Expert benefits & money advice

Last year our free Benefits and Money Clinic helped 332 members of our community claim over £950,000!

Tips from our community

“After returning to work following a long period of time off to recover from surgery, my partner said noise-cancelling headphones helped them focus without being exhausted by the background noise of a busy office.”

“Try not to compare yourself to your colleagues too much. You might be working a little slower after your diagnosis, but it doesn’t mean your input is less valuable.”

“I’ve been back at work over a year now but when I first returned I paced myself using a WobL watch. I would set it to vibrate at different intervals to remind me to take a break.”

“After her treatment, our 17-year old started working at a local stables for a few hours a week. They slowly built this up over time and they’re now doing three full days every week.”

Join one of our Online Support Communities for more tips about coping with a brain tumour diagnosis, from people who truly understand what you’re going through.

Find out more

Have you had to reduce your working hours or give up work completely?

If you’re feeling fed-up, frustrated or depressed that you can no longer work as you used to, use BRIAN’s quality-of-life tracker to record how you’re feeling each day and use this to open up conversations with your loved ones and your healthcare team.

BRIAN is our trusted online app where you can track your experience, compare it with others who’ve been there and get the knowledge you need to make informed decisions.

Employment resources

Telling your employer – PDF

Use this resource to look at the pros and cons of telling your employer about your, or your loved one's, diagnosis, and how to go about it.

Possible effects of brain tumours and their treatment for adults – PDF

Use this visual resource to help make your employer/colleagues aware of the possible effects of brain tumours and their treatment. You could print off the body map to highlight those which affect you.

Employment 'charter' for people with, or caring for someone with, a brain tumour – PDF

A 'charter' of the employment rights of people with, or caring for someone with, a brain tumour. It covers England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Employment adjustments (example) – PDF

This sheet gives examples of 'reasonable adjustments' that can be made in the workplace according to the side-effects you are experiencing.

My employee has, or is caring for someone with, a brain tumour – how can I help? – PDF

Use this to understand how best to support your employee and your responsibilities towards them.

Employment resources – PDF

A list of specialist organisations and services that can give information, advice and practical support to help you apply for, stay in, or return to work. Many can also give information and advice to employers.

If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:
Support and Information Services
0808 800 0004 Free from landlines and mobiles
Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00
A member of our Support & Information Team provides support over the phone to somebody affected by a brain tumour diagnosis

Get support

If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, our Support and Information team is available by phone, email or live-chat.

Tasmin discussing employment difficulties following a brain tumour diagnosis

I struggle to work

Tasmin is a single mother of three children, and lives in Cheshire. She was diagnosed with a meningioma in 2013 and underwent a craniotomy. She is a midwife but has struggled with work and finances since the onset of her tumour.

Share your experiences and help create change

By taking part in our Improving Brain Tumour Care surveys and sharing your experiences, you can help us improve treatment and care for everyone affected by a brain tumour.