The diagnosis of cancer can turn your life upside down in a matter of minutes.

It is a life-altering experience that can be a cause for a lot of stress on the individual who received the diagnosis, as well as family members and caretakers. There are many things to think about when the diagnosis is made, including whether or not you’ll need to continue working throughout your treatment.

Holistic therapies can aid in the reduction of stress and ease the side effects of treatment if having to work while going through cancer.

Having cancer does not necessarily mean that you will have to stop working. Most likely you will need time off for appointments, treatments or extra rest. You might decide to work as much as possible or take a leave of absence and return when you feel up to it. Or you might have to continue to work for financial reasons and/or health insurance benefits.

One benefit of working while going through cancer is that going to work can help you feel more normal.

If you decide to continue working, it could take some adjusting. Your body might respond differently to normal activities when you have cancer or are going through treatment. You might feel tired, more stressed, have pain or difficulty thinking or remembering things.

Something to consider during this trying time are the benefits of integrative health. Integrative health is the unity of conventional and holistic medicine. It is a healing-oriented model that considers the whole person — body, mind, spirit and lifestyle. It uses all appropriate therapies, both conventional and alternative, and focuses on the needs, values and well-being of the person.

Here are some holistic measures to help reduce stress and side effects of treatment:

• Conserve energy. Take short breaks as needed throughout your workday to keep your energy up.

• Be mindful of your innermost desires and acclimate optimism into your daily thoughts. Take time for yourself to reflect, soul search and nourish the soul. A positive mental attitude during this trying time can help heal the body and reduce stress.

• Consider meditation practices. Meditation clears space in your head. Apps such as Insight Timer and Headspace are great places to start.

• Use reminder lists and alarms to remember your meetings or tasks. Write a list of tasks that need to be completed for the day. A daily planner, Post-it Notes or use of a smartphone might be helpful tools. Set alarms to help remind you of the tasks that need to be accomplished.

• Be open and honest about your situation. Talk with your manager about any concerns. Share your feelings and concerns with your family members and health care team.

• Fuel your body with good nutrition. This will help to provide optimal energy throughout the day. A dietitian with experience in oncology nutrition can help you develop a plan.

• Consider using essential oils. Aromatherapy can help ease anxiety, pain and nausea symptoms. A clinical aromatherapist can help guide you on which essential oils would be beneficial.

It is important to know your rights. Side effects of cancer treatment are considered disabilities under the American Disabilities Act. Your employer must provide reasonable accommodations according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. These can include:

• Giving you breaks to take medication, see a doctor or rest.

• Having you do a job that fits your new hours or abilities better.

• Giving you access to counseling through an employee assistance program.

Please remember, you are not in this alone. We live in a wonderful community where people care and want to help in any way they can. Seek out services offered by the community. There are many support groups and valuable resources available to help you and your loved ones through this healing journey.

Jessica Kennedy, BSN, RN, CHC, CMSRN, Jessica is a nurse at MercyOne Dubuque Medical Center.