Peter on working with cancer

Peter, a construction worker, standing on a building site and smiling. The words 'cancer isn't fair but your boss has to be' appear next to him.
Peter, a construction worker, standing on a building site and smiling. The words 'cancer isn't fair but your boss has to be' appear next to him.

Peter was working when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. By speaking with his employer about his cancer, using information he had found out from his oncology team, changes were put in place that helped him to continue working during radiotherapy treatment which was important to him.

Peter's story

The biopsy had come back positive, and I was told I had quite an aggressive tumour in my prostate. I was working as a Senior Project Manager for a construction company, where I continue to work today.

When I told my employer it was cancer and I needed to have an operation they were understanding and supportive. It took me three months to recover after the operation. I didn’t return to work in this period, as my oncologist told me I wasn’t ready, and my HR contact told me not rush back, so I didn’t feel pressured.

Financially I wasn’t worried as my company paid me in full whilst I was off work. Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t really know anything about cancer so it really helped speaking to others, including my oncologist, HR, line manager and colleagues. Speaking to people helped me not feel so alone.

They mentioned I didn’t need to come back to work after the three month recovery, if I needed more time, but I'm a very active person and felt I was ready for work. I felt it would help me recover, to do something, and I really appreciated that my job was there for me to return to.

I asked them about what jobs were coming up, and chose to return to work on a less demanding project. Despite coming back to work as normal, this had to change when I was told there may still be something in my prostate bed. I needed 40 radiotherapy treatments and as my oncologist was based in Harley Street I needed to go there for my treatment.

I wanted to carry on working through radiotherapy. I was told about side effects, including how this may disrupt my bowels, but I felt I could manage this. It did help being prepared. I also found out about the amount of follow up appointments I would need during working hours, from my oncology team, and shared this information with my line manager and HR.

They told me they could be flexible, so I could continue working around my treatment. It was agreed I would work reduced hours, working in the morning until 12pm and a colleague would cover for me in the afternoon.

Finishing early meant I could get a train for my afternoon appointments. And working shorter days during treatment kept me active which was important for me.

My cancer has come back, and I am currently taking some time off work. My employer continues to be supportive. I make sure that I keep speaking to my line manager and HR, and share any information I have from my oncologist.

From experience, I have found that talking and asking questions when necessary has really helped me. I feel very loyal to the company now. I always felt loyal and proud to work there, but now even more so.

Sara sits on her sofa