it may be good to discuss how supervisors/employers/co-workers can make this horrifying experience [cancer treatment] more…how should I say it…endurable?
Story of a cancer survivor
- Some treatment lasts a month or two. Sometimes it continues for months (or more).
- Some people want to return to work as soon as possible. Others need to take it slow.
- It can affect your energy levels, your mental capacity and your emotional agility.
- Find out if she wants others to know (colleagues and clients). Not everyone does. She may even want you to break the news.
- Let her know her sick leave entitlements. Is there anything else you can do that will make it easier? For instance:
- parking or taxi vouchers
- flexible hours
- working from home
- a gradual return to work
- alternative duties.
- Invite her to meetings and social events as you would normally.
- Ask how you can help. Or suggest ways to help and ask if she would like that.
- Ask her how she is. Remember it’s not about you. Don’t turn it back to your experiences or connect it with someone else and their cancer journey. Just listen. If you want to give advice, ask if she would prefer you just listen or if she’d like to hear it.
- There are good days and bad days. Ask is today a good day or bad day and how you can make it easier.
What’s not helpful
- It’s not helpful to comment on their attitude – do people die because they’re weak-minded?
- It’s not helpful to comment on their appearance – some people look surprisingly well when they’re not.
- Don’t say you know how they feel. You can’t.
What if it goes on for a really long time?
The last thing a career woman needs (or any woman) is to worry about her job or her work getting done or her insurance coverage or her co-workers or how she looks (or is perceived) when she does come in. She shouldn’t have to come in if she can work from home especially on days that she doesn’t feel well or would have difficulty with the commute. She shouldn’t have to worry about working particular hours to maintain her job.
if people feel loved and appreciated at work and that you truly care about them personally, it makes the ‘and’ part [of work and life integration] work much better.