Dedicated to the care of breast cancer and all breast conditions
Dr Sarah Rayne is no longer practising in
Johannesburg and this practice is closed.

These pages are for information only,
and current only until 2018
I’ve just been diagnosed with breast cancer- help!
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I’ve noticed a lump in my breast
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I have breast pain               
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I need advice about breastfeeding
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Managing work with breast cancer  
If you are undergoing cancer treatment, you will have to take time off work at some point. This may be for appointments, treatments, recovery or just because you need some time out. If you are lucky your work will understand and support you in this, but even if that’s the case, a concern over work and time off can cause great anxiety to most patients, and questions I get asked often are: How will this affect my work? What if I can’t manage?
Employment rights
Social welfare
Employment rights
Under South African labour law, most employees are entitled to six-weeks of sick leave in every three year work cycle. If you have been in your job less than six months, you get one day for every month (26 days) worked, on full pay.

Be careful. Cancer treatments can quickly exhaust this leave so it’s a good idea to tell your employer about your treatments. Discuss with your doctor what the full plan of treatment is for you and you can then sketch this out to your employer so they have realistic expectations.

If you do have problems, the Employment Equity Act protects workers from retrenchment due to disability, and a diagnosis of cancer which makes work difficult falls under this definition. Your boss has a duty to encourage and help you unless circumstances are exceptional.

There should never be a reason to compromise your care because of work concerns, but act early. Your breast specialist doctor should be a valuable ally in helping you with information and planning, and good multi-disciplinary care involving breast support and advocacy groups can give you advice or recommend labour law support.
Social welfare
Grants are available for patients who are unable to work due to their breast cancer. In these circumstances a temporary disability grant can be applied for through the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA). If the cancer or cancer treatment makes you unfit for work for more than six months then a temporary grant is suitable. This may apply to patients who are having chemotherapy or treatment for extended periods of time.

To apply the patient must be South African citizen or permanent resident and undergo means testing. The doctor treating the patient will fill in a medical assessment from which is taken to the SASSA office along with all medical reports and proof.

For dire situations of an immediate nature, a social relief of distress grant can be applied for. This is a grant designed specifically for immediate situations of distress where a patient is medically unfit for work for a period of less than six months. It is designed to provide for a family’s most basic needs and is often in the form of a food parcel for three to six months.

It is unusual for breast cancer to result in permanent disability, but this can be assessed on a yearly basis if a longer grant is required.