“I didn’t want to be known as, ‘the lady with cancer’ ”.
Diagnosed with ABC in March 2018. I have breast cancer that has spread to the bone. I suffer from terrible fatigue and chemo brain. I tried to work during treatment but found it difficult to concentrate so had 10 months off on sick leave. I had a phased return to work in 2019 which allowed me to adjust easily. Work were very understanding of me working from home one day a week so I could continue having treatment every three weeks with minimal disruption to the team. However, work seemed to protect me and despite me asking for more projects and challenges, they never came my way. I need work to give me a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
Living with ABC, your time is precious. You think very carefully about how you want to spend your time as you know it’s limited. Work is an important part of my life, my identity. I wanted to return to work as it used to give me a sense of purpose and sense of satisfaction. However, I didn’t want to be known as “the lady with cancer”.
Returning to work after a period of sick leave is very difficult as cancer takes away a lot of your self esteem and confidence. You’ve gone through something life changing that many people find uncomfortable hearing and don’t know how to react to. Once again you have to manage other people’s emotions when they hear of your circumstances. You need to be prepared mentally and emotionally for your return to work and to take one day at a time.
Those living with ABC have a wealth of experience in coping with uncertainty and change - something which organisations struggle with. Organisations would do well to focus on these new behaviours that the person brings back to the team.