Cancer charities say working can help patients cope

Steve Jobs
Image caption 'Do great work' was Steve Jobs' mantra

In a speech at Stanford University in 2005, Steve Jobs said: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life."

He added: "Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work."

This approach, in the face of his battle with a rare form of hormonal cancer, has led to admiration from cancer charities.

His death was announced on Thursday morning just weeks after he stood down as CEO of Apple.

Steve Jobs was diagnosed with a rare neuroendocrine tumour in his pancreas in 2004, although the exact cause of his death remains unclear.

Unlike the most common form of pancreatic cancer, which is aggressive and has a poor survival rate, Steve Jobs' cancer is slow-growing and it is not unusual for people to live for many years after diagnosis.


Catherine Bouvier, director of the NET Patient Foundation, which represents people with neuroendocrine tumours, said: "For many people diagnosed with cancer can be the most horrific, life-changing experience.

"It's particularly hard for that to happen in public.

"Steve Jobs was remarkable."

But she said the charity also saw many patients who wanted to carry on with normal life throughout their illness.

She said the relatively slow progress of these cancers meant people often did decide to try to carry on with their normal life as much as possible.

However Laura Dillingham, of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Steve continued to work despite his diagnosis but not all cancer patients will want, or be able, to do this.

"The effect a cancer diagnosis and treatment has on a patient's ability to work depends on the type and stage of their cancer and how they are affected physically and emotionally by their treatment."

She said people had to make choices based on their individual situations.

"Evidence shows that for people who have experienced ill health or disability, remaining in or returning to work can actually help to promote recovery and lead to better health.

"Some people want to work through or after cancer treatment to restore normality, social contact and to get an income.

"For other people, it will be an opportunity to rethink their lives and consider retraining, retiring or taking early retirement."

She added: "It's important people living with cancer do what is right for them and aren't rushed into going back to work by their employer. Businesses can make a big difference to the lives of employees who've been affected by cancer by making a few small changes to their environment or working hours."

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