Cancer in the Workplace

We have established and acknowledged that cancer is pervasive and touches countless lives in myriad ways. But, we have not specifically talked about cancer in the workplace. It can be an issue that needs attention from several viewpoints, including:

  • Employer/ HR Department
  • Supervisor / Manager
  • Self – surviving and thriving
  • Colleague or coworker
  • Family & friends offering support and encouragement

As we looked for resources on the topic, we came across (once again) an amazing site that does offer a great deal of helpful information. It is called CancerCare.org and it offers a ton of excellent resources for people in each of the above roles and situations.

Some of the questions that arise, for example, include:

  • As an employer, how can I best support my newly diagnosed employee? What can we also do to encourage healthy behavior, encourage testing and prevention, and keep our workforce healthy and happy?
  • As a direct supervisor, how do I best manage the employee who was just diagnosed? Do they have a right to demand (or expect) special privileges or flexible policies? How do I keep it fair for everyone else and make sure we stay productive and meet goals and deadlines?
  • Now that I have been diagnosed with cancer, how in the world do I tell my boss and coworkers? I am already scared and stressed and I know I am going to face a lot of challenges. How do I stay positive through it all?
  • What are my rights as a cancer patient when I am at work? What is appropriate to ask for as far as special privileges or access to services? What other accommodations are reasonable to ask for or expect?
  • My good friend at work has just been diagnosed with cancer and is terrified. How can I help her step back and see that the diagnosis is not a death sentence? How can I help her deal with it at work and support her efforts to keep up with her workload while undergoing care? How do we even talk about it at work?
  • A family member just found out he has cancer and he needs to keep working for as long as possible to support his family financially. How can I help him with that as an outsider and what resources should he be seeking to plan for his long-term financial well being so that he can keep working?

We will continue to dig into some of these questions and see what answers we find. At CancerCare.org, in the meantime, they actually have professional oncology social workers.  (Cool area of focus for social work, we think!)

We are fully committed to spreading messages of #AwarenessAndHope to help us help everyone to #BeatCancer.  We believe that you can win that battle and we know lots of people who have. Keep an eye on us; we are going to ramp up our efforts, spread our reach, and work to touch as many people’s lives with our cameras and content as possible.

We used to say, “Everyone has a cancer story; tell us yours.” Now we are focused on just what we said above, “Awareness and Hope”, because a cancer diagnosis may terribly frightening, but it does not have to be the end of joy in life, and it may not result in shortened life expectancy. Sometimes it does, of course, but we ae not gong to focus one bit of energy on potential failure, but rather focus 100% of our energy on spreading a message that will inspire patients, employers, friends, and families to fight back, stay strong, survive and #Beat Cancer!