Loading...

Return to Work Associated With Improved Mental Health in Cancer Survivors

January 19, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
Return to Work Associated With Improved Mental Health in Cancer Survivors
Kelli Ahnen

WASHINGTON — Kelli Ahnen, a 63-year-old former nursery manager and cancer survivor, found returning to work after a battle with breast cancer improved the quality of her mental health. 

“I went back to work and it helped. It took my mind off dwelling on everything I went through and what might happen,” said Ahnen. 

Ahnen was diagnosed with an invasive ductal carcinoma in her left breast in July 2015 and by August had undergone a lumpectomy surgery to remove the cancer tumor and six weeks of radiation treatment.

“It was very emotional, not knowing is it going to get it all? What’s happening? But after a few times you get used to it and get it done. But the fatigue just overwhelms you. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever had in my life. I had zero energy. There were times I didn’t even want to hold my head up,” said Ahnen.

Prior to undergoing treatment for breast cancer, Ahnen worked at a tropical plant nursery called Color Zone Tropicals Inc.

The nursery, located in Winter Garden, Florida, sold about $250,000 in plants each year to interior and exterior landscapers who would use them in airports, Disney facilities and other locations around the state. 

“I would go out in the evening and walk through the greenhouses and look at how beautiful they were. It was very therapeutic,” said Ahnen.

After radiation treatment and surgery, Ahnen experienced burns all over her body that took about three months to completely heal.

“It was about three months before I was completely healed physically and mentally to even think about going back to work,” said Ahnen.

“A tropical plant nursery involves a lot of physical work … lifting plants. When I went back, I worked in the office as a manager and did the deliveries of the plants, but I couldn’t work in the greenhouses for really a year because I was weaker in my left side from the surgeries,” continued Ahnen. 

Ahnen said she’s stayed in touch with several women from a cancer survivor group and about half of them have returned to work, but unfortunately several of their cancers came back. 

“That’s a setback mentally because … ‘oh my gosh, that could be me,’” said Ahnen. 

Ahnen may be one of many cancer survivors who have mentally benefited from a return to work, as findings from a recent study of working and non-working patients with cancer specific and mental health parameters shows that non-working patients had higher levels of depression.

The researchers found that 73.7% of all patients, or roughly 317 individuals, returned to work after one year, and non-working patients reported higher levels of depression, anxiety, distress than working patients over time. 

“Return to work can thus be associated with improved mental health in cancer survivors,” write the researchers in the study. 

Alexa can be reached at alexa@thewellnews.com 

In The News

Health

Voting

Mental Health

April 14, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Rep. Alma Adams Holds Forum on Black Maternal Health

WASHINGTON — Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., hosted a forum on Wednesday on Black maternal health to highlight the efforts being... Read More

WASHINGTON — Rep. Alma Adams, D-N.C., hosted a forum on Wednesday on Black maternal health to highlight the efforts being made to address reproductive issues in the U.S. for women of color. The forum aligns with Black Maternal Health Week which is observed from April 11-17.... Read More

April 13, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Millions Could Lose Medicaid Coverage Following End of PHE

WASHINGTON — The federal COVID-19 public health emergency, first declared Jan. 27, 2020,  was set to expire on April 16.... Read More

WASHINGTON — The federal COVID-19 public health emergency, first declared Jan. 27, 2020,  was set to expire on April 16. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra on Wednesday extended the COVID-19 public health emergency for 90 days. A number of health policy experts have been... Read More

April 13, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
New Findings on Metabolic Syndrome Pave Way for Future Drug Development

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A new study from researchers at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center provides evidence as to why people... Read More

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A new study from researchers at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center provides evidence as to why people suffer from overnutrition and possible therapeutics that could be developed to treat metabolic syndrome. “I was always interested in body weight from a scientific perspective and... Read More

April 5, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Report Shows US Health Care System Poorly Serves Reproductive Age Women

WASHINGTON — The U.S. health care system does a poor job of serving women of reproductive age compared to 10... Read More

WASHINGTON — The U.S. health care system does a poor job of serving women of reproductive age compared to 10 other wealthy countries, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report. “Women use the health care system more than men do,” said Munira Gunja, lead report author... Read More

March 30, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Credit Bureaus Make Changes to Lighten the Load of American Medical Debt

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs met Tuesday to explore how effective credit bureaus... Read More

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs met Tuesday to explore how effective credit bureaus will be in lightening the heavy load of medical debt many Americans are carrying.  “After increasing scrutiny and pressure, the three credit reporting agencies — Equifax,... Read More

March 24, 2022
by Alexa Hornbeck
Federal Funds Ramp Up to Support July Launch of 988 Crisis Line

The Biden administration is requesting $700 million to launch the new 988 line for those in a mental health crisis,... Read More

The Biden administration is requesting $700 million to launch the new 988 line for those in a mental health crisis, by July 16, 2022. “There’s a level of excitement because 988 is a chance to improve mental health care services and outcomes, but funding needs to... Read More

News From The Well