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Cancer and the Workplace

9 Nov 2016 20:29

Hello everyone,

You may have seen the news article on the BBC a few days ago that one-fifth of cancer patients face work discrimination. Read cancer survivor Terry Foster’s story here who says he lost his job because he had cancer.

This made me wonder, did any of you also feel that your employers treated you unfairly after your cancer diagnosis? How did the cancer itself have an impact on your working life? Or perhaps you actually had a very positive experience and your employers were very supportive? 

We would love to hear all your work-related stories!

Cancer and the Workplace

10 Nov 2016 12:17 in response to Moderator Lucie

Hi Lucie

I think this is a really important topic.

As a business owner of a small recruitment company I went through salivary cancer 5 years ago, but pretty much had to get myself back to work as quickly as I could because of the need for me to be around. I remember having my tumour removed from my neck in the afternoon, I was released from the hospital first thing the next morning and went straight back to my desk and started working!

But thats part of having your own business - as an employer I'd never want to subject one of our staff to that kind of pressure. As it happens one of my team who is incredibly valuable to us and has been a brilliant member of staff has just been diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, so we are now on the 'other side of the fence' and we will do absoltuely everything we can to support her.

I have told her to basically take all the time she needs off on full pay, and we'll just work around how she is feeling until she is well again. Literally anything she needs we are going to be there for her, the only thing that matters is that she gets better. She has said that she actually feels work is a good thing for her socially and she'd rather be doing something productive than sitting at home, so she is going to try to get in as much as she can. But there will be times it will be impossible and I will leave that totally up to her.

We are also going to get her set up to work from home when she wants and needs to.

Obviously having been through cancer myself does make me empathise, and I understand better than most employers would what she is going through. But at the same time had I not have been through it myself I'm sure my attitude would be the same. I would have said its just what anyone would do, but it seems not! How can employers treat people so callously? Its really surprising and saddening.

Some things are more important than money - yes it hurts a business to pay someone when they aren't working, and the rest of us all have to work a little harder to cover that gap when she isn't there.

But how could anyone do things any differently? Its just doing the right thing as a human being.

Cheers

Leo