Words from our Marketing Director, Philippa Neilson-Factor:

Cancer is a tricky subject from all perspectives – but reactions from work colleagues and a cancer sufferer’s own attitude to work can make a big difference. I’m speaking from experience.

Firstly I need to state that I’m very very lucky – both in my cancer, treatment and the support I received. Things that didn’t go all my way. Bad bits include that my tumour was initially misdiagnosed as being benign and my initial consultant having the bedside manner of an elephant when it came to guidance on actually having cancer.

The positives were that my cancer is only treatable by surgery – so the initial tumour and any subsequent ones can only be treated by chopping them out – so no chemo or radiotherapy for me! It was caught very early – and I now have a great consultant who takes care of me.

The pluses also included that all of my work colleagues were very supportive and accommodating where my medical needs impacted on my work ability. It makes a huge difference. So here are my tips on how to handle the ‘C’ word if someone in your office is given the dreaded diagnosis….

DON’T ….

  • Google and tell your colleague all about their type of cancer.
  • Tell your friend that it isn’t cancer and they’ll be fine (yes it did happen!)
  • Ignore him/her – that’s worse than saying the wrong thing.
  • Expect too much – there is a lot to take in and the smallest things can be triggers for alarm or upset. Make allowances – there’s a lot to deal with emotionally as well as physically.

DO …

  • Ask how your colleague is – if you feel you can. If you can’t face knowing or are worried on what they will say or how you/they will react then feel free to just say ‘hello’.
  • Be normal – acting normally is important – there is enough abnormal stuff happening without people feeling awkward. We are still exactly the same people – we are just having a battle with some ‘nasties’.
  • Talk about your own/friends’/family experiences if you want to – but be aware that everyone and a lot of cancers are different.

Join us in showing your support on Sunday 4th February for World Cancer Day – http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/donate/world-cancer-day