By Matt Lalande in Breast Cancer, Depression, Long-Term Disability, PTSD on March 12, 2023
According to the Canadian Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women in Canada. Each year, it is estimated that nearly 30,000 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022, with 5,000 dying from the disease. For many breast cancer patients, the treatment process can often be long and arduous, requiring extensive surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy.
For women who recover from breast cancer returning to work can be one of their biggest challenges. A recent study found that nearly 60% of breast cancer survivors experience some form of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and while many companies may be understanding and accommodating towards employees with cancer, the same cannot be said for those suffering from depression and PTSD.
Depression and PTSD can have a huge negative impact on a survivor’s physical and mental health, making it difficult to concentrate, remember tasks, or stay organized on the job. It can also lead to feelings of isolation and demotivation, leading to decreased productivity. Moreover, symptoms such as mood swings, agitation, and irritability can interfere with the survivor’s interpersonal relationships at work and ultimately – for some, permanently impair work ability, adding financial stress to a person’s situation.
To make matters worse, many breast cancer survivors who cannot work need to rely on long-term disability benefits in order to survive and pay their bills. In these situations, every setback or rejection can mean the difference between getting back on one’s feet financially and being left unable to make ends meet.
If you’ve been denied long-term disability for breast cancer, contact our Hamilton Disability Lawyers to learn what options you may have. Our Breast Cancer and Depression Disability Lawyers can provide the help you need to get the disability benefits you deserve. We have experience in dealing with Depression and PTSD caused by breast cancer cases and can provide professional representation to ensure that you receive the long-term disability benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today for more information or to schedule an appointment with our firm. Call us today, toll-free, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in Southern Ontario at 905-333-8888 or fill in a contact form on our website and we will be happy to get right back to you.
Breast cancer, in and of itself, is an incredibly stressful experience that few should have to endure but that’s unfortunately not all victims of breast cancer need to contend with during their journey to remissions. Many individuals who survive breast cancer have acknowledged that the physical symptoms of the disease and the side effects of the different kinds of cancer treatments are only half the battle, and that dealing with the mental stress that comes with breast cancer is also a significant challenge.
Mental stress often leads to breast cancer patients developing different mental disorders, with depression and PTSD being prominent examples. According to data from the Cancer Support Community (CSC), 38% of breast cancer patients are at risk for clinical depression. Another study done in Germany and published in the journal Psycho-Oncology in 2016 showed that almost 80% of breast cancer survivors exhibit PTSD symptoms.
Unfortunately, mental health issues can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to stay productive in their workplace. Depression and PTSD can cause a decrease in concentration, and make it difficult to remember tasks or stay organized. Symptoms such as mood swings, agitation, and irritability can also interfere with the survivor’s interpersonal relationships at work.
The Debilitating Symptoms of Depression
Symptoms of clinical depression include feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and hopelessness that last for two weeks or more. Persons with breast cancer may also have difficulty sleeping, eating, or concentrating, as well as experiences of anxiety, irritability, and guilt.
Other symptoms of depression may differ from person to person:
It’s important to note that not everyone experiences the same symptoms of depression. While some people experience only a few of the symptoms listed above, others will experience more intense depression than other. It is possible for some patients to experience very mild symptoms while others have such severe symptoms that it significantly impairs their ability to live a normal life and a person’s ability to work.
The Struggles Posed by PTSD
PTSD is a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event, such as surviving breast cancer. It can cause an individual to feel anxious and experience flashbacks of the traumatic event. Other symptoms of PTSD include intrusive thoughts, nightmares, social withdrawal, and feeling constantly on edge or jumpy.
PTSD can be incredibly debilitating and can make it difficult for a person to perform their duties at work. It is also important to note that the symptoms of PTSD may not show up right away after a traumatic experience, and in some cases, they can take months or even years to manifest.
Symptoms of PTSD can include:
It is important to remember that symptoms may vary in intensity depending on the individual. Some individuals may experience mild symptoms while others may have more intense reactions. It is also possible for some people to experience a delayed reaction with their symptoms not manifesting for months or even years after the traumatic event.
The treatment process for breast cancer can be long and arduous: on average, cases of breast cancer are diagnosed at Stage IIIA, which means the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and that more extensive cancer treatment will be needed. When this is the case, patients usually undergo some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy, the most common forms of breast cancer treatment. Although cancer treatment will vary from person to person, a course of cancer treatment will, on average, run for about six months to a year. Having to commit to a treatment process for that stretch of time is not easy for anyone.
Body Image: Body image is a major issue for many people, especially those who have gone through cancer treatment. With treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery and radiation, the body can be altered in ways that make it difficult to feel comfortable with one’s appearance. There are countless studies which showed that women who have undergone total mastectomy experienced higher levels and permanent symptoms of depression and less satisfaction with body image.This can lead to depression or anxiety, both of which are mental health issues that can prevent a person from working.
Financial stress can lead to depression: from the time of breast cancer diagnosis to full remission, it can take up to two years for patients. In that time, many individuals will have to take leave from their jobs in order to focus on treatment. For some people, this may not be an issue if they have a good support system at home and/or work, but for others, taking this amount of time off can lead to financial instability and job insecurity. The stress of cancer can be exacerbated by the lack of financial stability.
The symptoms of cancer and side effects of cancer treatment can be difficult to cope with: chemotherapy, for example, is notorious for causing patients to lose their hair and feel nauseous. Radiation therapy can cause skin burns and fatigue, as well as making it difficult for patients to swallow. Surgery, while often effective, can also be very daunting and result in pain, scarring, and lymphedema. The side effects of cancer treatment can make it difficult for patients to return to their everyday lives and routines. The physical side effects of cancer treatment, along with the physical symptoms of breast cancer can result in many patients experiencing mental side effects.
Reliving and fixating on their painful cancer experience can lead to PTSD: for many breast cancer patients, their experience with the disease will be one of the most difficult and traumatizing experiences of their lives. It’s not surprising, then, that so many individuals who survive breast cancer go on to develop PTSD. The symptoms of PTSD can make it difficult for patients to return to work and resume their everyday activities. flashbacks and nightmares. Many breast cancer survivors are unable to focus on anything other than their cancer experience and treatment. This can lead to them feeling isolated from friends and family, as well as feeling like they’re not able to connect with others who haven’t had a cancer experience.
The workplace can be a difficult environment for breast cancer survivors: while some companies and employers are understanding and accommodating of employees who have or have had cancer, others are not. Breast cancer survivors who return to work may find themselves struggling with the symptoms of their illness, as well as facing discrimination from their colleagues. The unreceptiveness of others, physical and cognitive challenges of completing their work, and the continued issues that they may be experiencing as a result of their cancer and cancer treatment can result in depression and PTSD.
A study by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that breast cancer survivors are more likely to leave their jobs because of depression and PTSD. The study surveyed nearly 1,500 women diagnosed with breast cancer in the past two years. Of those surveyed, 45% said they had symptoms of depression, and 33% said they had symptoms of PTSD.
The study found that these women were more likely to leave their jobs because of their mental health struggles. Leaving your job is never an easy decision. For many, it can be one of the most challenging things they will ever do, but for breast cancer survivors struggling with depression and PTSD, leaving their job may be the only option.
The same study also found that these women were more likely to be denied disability benefits. Many breast cancer survivors are left without any income or health insurance when they need it the most. This issue can seem insurmountable because of the stiff resistance that disability insurance companies put up against disability insurance claimants. For women with depression and PTSD, the denied disability benefits can be especially difficult to deal with.
Of those surveyed, almost 20% said they left their job because of depression and PTSD. Although reasons for leaving their job include highly personal reasons such as wanting to spend more time with family or not being able to handle the stress of work, for many breast cancer survivors, depression and PTSD make it impossible to continue working. Factors that contributed to job loss included lack of support from managers, co-workers, or family members; feeling ostracized at work; and a lack of understanding about cancer survivorship
There are many reasons why breast cancer survivors live with depression and PTSD. The physical side effects of cancer treatment, the mental side effects of reliving their experience with cancer, and the workplace challenges that they face can all lead to depression and PTSD. For many breast cancer survivors, these conditions make it impossible to continue working.
Long-term disability plans can help a breast cancer survivor maintain financial stability while recovering. Most private policies issued through Canada Life or Manulife will provide short and long-term benefits for individuals who suffer from breast cancer. Additionally, survivors who are unable to return to their jobs may be eligible for CPP Disability which provides a monthly benefit if you suffer from a mental or physical disability that regularly stops you from doing any type of substantially gainful work.
in order to qualify for disability benefits from most disability insurance companies, you must have been diagnosed with breast cancer and meet the criteria of “total disability” as defined by their plan or policy. Unfortunately, not everyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer will be eligible for these benefits. Under most policies, a survivor of breast cancer must demonstrate an inability to perform the essential duties of their regular occupation due to the side effects from their treatment in order to qualify for disability benefits. Additionally, certain survivors may require further medical assessment in order to determine eligibility.
Overall, it is important for survivors of breast cancer to understand their legal rights and responsibilities when applying for long-term disability benefits. Knowing what documentation is required, being aware of the eligibility criteria, and understanding the claims process are all essential steps in obtaining the financial assistance needed during this difficult time.
For survivors of breast cancer who have lost their work as a result of depression or PTSD, disability insurance benefits may be their only hope of having financial stability, in order to regain any semblance of a normal life. Unfortunately, many claims of disability insurance are wrongfully denied by disability insurance companies who are more interested in protecting their financial bottom line than they are in helping claimants who have been paying premiums for years
If breast cancer related depression or PTSD has left you unable to work, Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers can help. Our team of long-term disability lawyers can help guide you through the complex process of obtaining long-term disability benefits. Since 2003, Hamilton Disability Lawyer Matt Lalande has recovered tens of millions in compensation for disability claimants who are were going through the worst times of their lives. Stop struggling with a faceless insurance company – and call our Hamilton long-term disability lawyers to get your free consultation today.
We represent disability claimants all over Ontario – and our disability lawyers can help you get the compensation deserve you you. Our consultations are 100% free – and if you decide to work with our Hamilton disability lawyers, the fee is free. We do not charge our clients anything unless we win their case. We are happy to provide you the legal advice you need in order for you to make an informed decision about your own particular situation. Call us no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Southern Ontario region at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can send us a confidential email through our website – and we would be happy to explain your long-term disability rights and legal options to you, at no cost.
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Yes, you can get disability benefits for breast cancer related depression of you cannot complete the substantial duties of your own job.
Yes, you can get disability benefits for breast cancer related PTSD of you cannot complete the substantial duties of your own job
Yes, in most cases, you need to apply for CPP Disability Benefits if you are collecting long-term disability benefits. Your LTD carrier will want you to apply in order to offset the amount the pay you, by the amount you receive from CPP.
If you policy states that you need to apply for CPP Disability, and you do not, then your LTD carrier can estimate an amount that you would receive and lessen your monthly payent by the estimated amount.
If think you need a disability lawyer, you probably do. If you’ve been denied long-term disability, you need to speak to a disability lawyer to learn your rights and to help get you the compensation you deserve to help protect you financially.