Cathy on work and cancer

Cathy sits at a table using a laptop.
Cathy sits at a table using a laptop.

After informing her employer that she had been diagnosed with bowel cancer, Cathy began to experience workplace discrimination. She phoned the Macmillan Support Line, and was surprised to learn that there was a dedicated team available to talk to about problems concerning work and cancer. 

Cathy's story

Things changed in the role I had. I was treated differently. I eventually quit the role as it became too difficult to continue. I managed to find another job but, after I told them about my cancer, they weren't understanding or supportive. I was made to work long hours, given impossible deadlines and an unfair contract. I walked out of that role and had a breakdown. I was signed off by my GP with workplace stress.

Macmillan supported me throughout. They gave me advice on returning to work and my rights. I was also sent the Macmillan work and cancer toolkit.

I spoke to somebody about my benefits and they recommended that I get in touch with the Equality Advisory Service, who also helped me. I wasn’t aware that Macmillan would support you so much in the workplace and have a specialist workplace team who could speak to your employers. They really, really help make a difference.

Because of their advice, I took my employer to court and managed to win a case for discrimination. Without their help, I wouldn't have won my court case. It’s one positive to come out of everything. 

Recovering from surgery and returning to work proved extremely difficult, but Macmillan supported me throughout. I called the Macmillan Support Line before my interview and they gave me advice over the phone and told me that I didn’t have to tell them about my cancer in the interview, just whenever I needed to. Nobody with cancer should have to fight their employers at the same time – the cancer’s tough enough by itself.


Close-up of Cathy looking down.

Watch: all about Cathy's experiences

Watch: all about Cathy's experiences