Working With Cancer
Working With Cancer is a social enterprise which helps people to keep working during and after cancer treatment. It provides coaching, training and consultancy for employers to help them offer the best support to employees undergoing cancer treatment as well as one-to-one coaching and advice for cancer patients, their partners and carers on how to manage work and cancer.
Founder Barbara Wilson explains how it came about:
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. At the time of my diagnosis I was working as a Human Resources Director for a FTSE 100 company in the City. While I was off sick, I was treated pretty well but, on my return, things started to go wrong and I couldn’t work out why. Some people were very welcoming and supportive but many others were surprised to see me back at work – they had expected me to retire or ‘spend more time with my family’! Others avoided talking to me – it was as if I had some terrible social disease. It didn’t help that I was wearing a wig and had lost my eyebrows and eyelashes. I made every possible effort to look as good as possible but there was no escaping the fact that I looked different and, let’s face it, a bit weird. My boss was convinced I was no longer committed to my job, mainly because I insisted that I was perfectly fine although I was exhausted and distracted by myriad side effects. I really didn’t help myself or the situation, but then again neither did they.
It struck me then that there was just no support for people like me to return to work successfully. I searched the web and found one organisation which provided help with hair and makeup, but nothing for coping with work itself. In the end, after many trials and tribulations and with a huge amount of support from the School for Social Entrepreneurs, I set up Working With Cancer to support anyone affected by cancer to return to work, remain in work or find work. We are currently the only UK organisation that does this.
This quote from Peter Harvey, a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, encapsulates many of my thoughts and ideas about the impact of cancer on our lives:
"Once heard, the diagnosis of cancer can never be forgotten. Whatever your prognosis, whatever your hopes, whatever your personality, the second that you know that you have cancer your life changes irrevocably."
Cancer changes your life and although you might ask yourself every day ‘why me’, the most cathartic approach in my view is to set some goals for a meaningful future and to take responsibility for fulfilling that future.
Working With Cancer’s purpose is to ‘change the conversation about work and cancer’. To help individuals with a cancer diagnosis – any cancer diagnosis – and working carers for those with cancer to make sense of the life altering experience of a diagnosis and treatment and to find a meaningful way forward. We build confidence by helping people to understand that despite the cancer they are undiminished. We help them ‘reset’ their lives both at work and outside of work, to put their cancer into context, to appreciate their strengths, to reconnect with their values, to consider how they want to live their lives in the future, and last but not least to have some fun and experience the sheer joy of being alive!
During this difficult period where we are all doing our best to cope with Covid 19, we are offering anyone affected by any form of cancer three hours of free coaching to help them return to work, manage work or find work after a cancer diagnosis – this includes working carers too. If you would like to find out more about this or to sign up for a copy of our newsletter or just to find out more about the work we do, please contact us via our website at www.workingwithcancer.co.uk or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org