Blogs and Articles

Blogs and articles written for other organisations as well as for this website. You can filter the articles using the options below

The typical ‘journey’ back to work – how it works – Stage 2

Date posted: June 23, 2017


Last week we looked at how to manage work when you’ve had your cancer diagnosis confirmed. This week we’re going to look at how to manage work when you’re in active treatment.

Download the full article here

Written by Barbara Wilson, Founder, Working With Cancer

The typical ‘journey’ back to work – how it works

Date posted: June 16, 2017

I really hate that word ‘journey’ when people talk about cancer. When I say it, I do that curled fingers in the air quote mark sign that tries to make it clear it is a cliché which I don’t really want to use but must because the English language doesn’t appear to offer a better alternative.

So, with apologies, I think there are two ‘journeys’ that we make, in managing work and cancer: the one we make physically and the one we make in our head, and it’s important that we understand both because they interact with and affect each other significantly.

Although there are over 200 cancers and many forms of treatment for each form of cancer, many of us go through a four-stage ‘journey’ where we are confronted by similar challenges connected with our work. In my experience, a major factor in successfully managing these challenges is to have a formal conversation at each of these stages with your line manager and HR: at the point of diagnosis, during active treatment, just before returning to work and in the first 12 months (at least) after returning to work.

Over the next four weeks we’ll be addressing each of the stages in turn. Focusing on the challenges that you may face and how your employer can support you.

Download the full article here

Written by Barbara Wilson, Founder, Working With Cancer

4 Thinking Traps Around Cancer At Work

Date posted: June 9, 2017

Fence with barb wire

In the work I do supporting those dealing with cancer in the workplace, how people communicate with those affected is a challenge that raises its head time and again.

Of course as a line manager there are formal discussions that need to take place, but amongst and around that, it is often those more informal, ‘on the hoof’ conversations that cause the most challenges for people.

Colleagues sometimes struggle so much to say the right thing they choose to say…

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Written for Working with Cancer by Debbie Palmer – June 2017


Cancer Coaching Community

Date posted: May 24, 2017

Working With Cancer’s founder, Barbara Wilson, is also a founding member of the Cancer Coaching Community, which launched last month. Read more here about the CCC and the support we provide to all people affected by cancer.

Did you know the Equality Act 2010 protects students as well as employees?

Date posted: May 2, 2017

As a Solicitor for almost 20 years specialising in employment law, encountering litigation in respect of cancer in the work place was rare. Disability, yes, on a daily basis, from physical to mental disability but never cancer as a disability. Having looked at the statistics for people being diagnosed with cancer this seems almost impossible but such was my experience.

It is only now that I am an Associate at Working with Cancer that I have regularly started  providing advice to employees who are returning to work, after having cancer. All these incredibly courageous people trying to pick up their lives and find sense in what they had just been through and return to some type of normality. They call it the “new normal,” the post cancer normal, whatever that is. I’m in an interesting position in being a two-times cancer survivor, an employee and an employer, and having represented both as a solicitor, I can now see the bigger picture and can empathize with the people I speak to in a way, I know I could not have done prior to having been through my own journey.

One of the really interesting questions I have been asked lately, is how the rights of students are affected, having had cancer or being diagnosed with cancer while still studying. CLIC[1] Sargent a charity for children with cancer, found in their July 2013 research that, ‘the impact of cancer on teenagers in secondary school was that they feared having to retake the academic year and being left behind. Almost two thirds (64%) of the young people that they spoke to for this report had been in some form of post -16 education since their cancer diagnosis. Around three in five (61%) said that cancer created barriers to their education and over two thirds (67%) “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that they “worried about the impact cancer has had or will have on their education.”


Read the full blog from Working with Cancer Associate, Génevie Kuiper-Isaacson, here


Cancer at Work: An Interview with Barbara Wilson

Date posted: April 28, 2017

Read Barbara Wilson’s interview with the Harley Street Concierge Blog  in the first in a series of articles about Cancer in the Workplace.  Barbara discusses a variety of topics including her personal experience ​of​ breast cancer; ​how ​companies ​could improve their ​support​ for​ employees​ and ​what you ​should ​do if you’re feeling unsupported at work

Read the full article here

Top tips on how to support a colleague during and after cancer treatment

Date posted: March 22, 2017

Cancer is having a huge impact within the workplace and this will continue and increase for the foreseeable future. Although long-term absence[1] (lasting over four weeks) only accounts for 5% of all absence episodes, it typically accounts for 30–40% of total working time lost. In 2013 it was estimated to cost the UK £4bn per annum. Cancer represents a significant cause of long-term absence for manual workers (29%) and among non-manual employees is the second most frequently reported cause of long-term absence. And with the number of cancer survivors expected to increase from 2.5 million to 4 million by 2030, being equipped to support staff affected by cancer will become even more important.

Line managers play a crucial role in…

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Written for Macmillan Cancer Support, March 2017

Working together towards recovery

Date posted: March 9, 2017

For International Women’s Day Barbara was interviewed by the Daily Telegraph for their special supplement on Diversity in the Workplace.

Read Daily Telegraph article here (PDF)

Q&A at Trekstock

Date posted: January 5, 2017

Barbara Wilson visited Trekstock’s offices in Covent Garden just before Christmas to answer a wide variety of questions about how to manage work and cancer successfully. Watch the video below.

Managing the performance of people affected by cancer

Date posted: December 6, 2016

Here are a couple of case studies to get you thinking: can you spot what the employers should have done differently in the two case studies below?

Case 1:

A friend of mine, relatively new in a senior role, was diagnosed with cancer. Keen to keep on working during her chemo and with no real knowledge of what chemo was like, she committed to going into work for a couple of days a week. This worked well for a couple of cycles of chemotherapy but it soon became clear to her that, given the impact of her chemotherapy was cumulative, she wouldn’t be able to work the days to which she had committed. Her employer’s response was to start performance managing her for not fulfilling her commitments and not meeting her targets.

Case 2:

A client of mine returned to work following cancer treatment to find that her boss had requested a 360-degree appraisal of her in her absence. She returned to a meeting in her first week back with her boss and an HR representative, where she was confronted by anonymous and highly-critical comments from her boss and colleagues.

If you don’t see anything wrong in the above cases, please do two things:

1. For Case 1, have a careful read of…

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Written for Macmillan Cancer Support, November 2016