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Your employee tells you she has cancer. Now what?


Managing Cancer at Work teaches employers and employees alike how to deal with the stress of cancer on the job.

Cancer program supports managers and employees alike

Jim was the “computer guru” at his company; the guy everyone relied on for all of their IT needs. Jim was the fixer, the problem solver, always there when his colleagues needed him. No one could remember him ever taking a sick day.

So when Jim took an extra week for his summer vacation, everyone noticed. They joked that he finally ran away to the South Seas, like he promised every year.

Only a couple colleagues saw him the morning he came back, slipping into his boss’s office and closing the door.

Christine Abbott had been a senior manager at the company for more than five years, and she respected Jim for his work ethic and his positive disposition. She had approved his extra week off, but had a feeling it wasn’t so he could have more time at the beach.

“If you’ve come to resign, Jim, you can’t,” she joked.

She wishes now that that was what he had wanted to talk to her about.

His faint smile evaporated quickly. He knew his next sentence would change everything; he just didn’t know how?

“Chris, I’ve been diagnosed with cancer,” he blurted out. “I have to start chemo soon.” Chris told Jim that she was so very sorry to hear this news. And they both stared blankly at each other for a moment. “I don’t want to lose my job. I can’t afford to be without benefits. I don’t want to let you down. There’s so much work to do, and I want to keep working … if I can.” He was shaken, she could tell. She was, too. He looked at her for a reaction. For guidance.

Each workplace has its own culture, it’s own way of handling employee illness. As a manager or supervisor, you want to do the right thing by your employees, say the right thing, help them in some way. And you have a responsibility to do the right thing by your other employees, and for your business.

In this short video, cancer survivors and managers share their stories of how this employee benefit provided much-appreciated resources that helped them manage cancer in the workplace.

Click here to learn how Managing Cancer at Work can benefit your managers and their employees.