1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. Over 750,000 people of working age are living with cancer in the UK, many of these people remain in work during their treatment.
The range of cancers, treatments, prognosis and the physical and mental impact is unique for each person. For those affected by cancer, work can be important. Work can bring a sense of normality and financial security. But many find work a struggle.
To mark World Cancer Day, we asked a couple of the #bmFamily💜💚 affected by cancer to share why they feel it’s important to talk about it.
Living With Cancer
When I was diagnosed with cancer, I only told my work colleagues and closest friends. It’s still not a topic I find easy to talk about. Perhaps if we banish the fear around the C word with events like ‘World Cancer Day’ it would help?
Initially my anxiety levels went off the scale, but luckily, I had a super counsellor. I also had a former work colleague called Matt, who was amazing. His messages and emails seemed to always pop up at the moment I felt the lowest. He couldn’t see me, but he knew what to say and it made a difference. He also wrote some inspiring blogs that made me think differently. In one of his blogs he said, “it’s from vulnerability that opportunities grow.”That was a turning point in the way I thought about it.
I have seen this too from my work colleague Gregory, who has written about his recent cancer experience. Positive Thinking
Both Matt and Gregory have shown me that it’s a positive to be open and have these conversations. For me, the most important thing is to say SOMETHING. “I‘m not sure what to say, but I want you to know I care.” “I‘m here if you would like to talk about it.” “Please let me know how I can help.”
So if you know someone affected by cancer try to avoid saying nothing. As the recipient, that feels like you don’t care. I understand that it’s awkward, but not as difficult as it is for the person with cancer! No-one knows what to say, and that’s OK. It’s not something we spend hours rehearsing for! Reaching out a hand, having a hug or send a thoughtful note or text are all welcome. But most of all, take your cue from the person and don’t be afraid. The #bmFamily💜💚 were amazing- I couldn’t have been so positive and sprung back so quickly if it hadn’t been for them!
I like to think of myself as a glass half full person, always trying to find a positive side to all situations. But when we were told that our young son had leukaemia, my glass emptied itself. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone, I completely withdrew into the world of the hospital, while I struggled to come to terms with what exactly was happening.