I was driving to my work as the general manager for a small, independent business when my GP called and asked me to pull over so we could speak. I’d been sent for tests after going to visit them on several occasions because of a swelling in my groin and feeling increasingly tired and the results were now back.
The GP explained that I had stage 4 kidney cancer, which had spread to my lungs. I had three lesions on my lungs and a tumour on my left kidney and would need to see a specialist urgently. Two months later I had surgery to remove my kidney and a tumour in my artery. I was left with 30 inches of scars on my chest.
I had only been in the job a month when I got my diagnosis. When I told my boss, he broke down in tears. Another colleague had died suddenly not long before, so it was an emotional time. He gave me a big hug, said he'd support me completely and would remove any stress or pressure work-wise. I didn't tell the rest of my colleagues straight away. I wanted to be a normal guy, to still be 'me'. But once I knew about my treatment plan I let them know too.
I was off work for six weeks after my surgery. During that time my boss called me every day to see how I was doing. Knowing I had so much support from my employer was really reassuring.
When I felt ready to return to work I called Macmillan’s Work Support Service. I needed equipment to be able to work from home and they told me about the government’s Access to Work scheme and how I could apply. Through Access to Work, I’ve been able to get new monitors and an ergonomic chair to make working from home more comfortable. Being able to work flexibly has been such a relief.
Calling the Work Support Service made all the difference. The advisers were very knowledgeable and helpful. They really listened and treated me like an individual, not a cancer patient. What would I say to others in the same situation? Phone them, even for a chat to find out about your rights at work and the support that may be available.
Get the support you need
If you have cancer and are concerned about how this will affect work, we can help. Find out more about your work rights, or call our dedicated Work Support Service on 0808 808 0000, Monday-Friday, 8am-6pm.
If you are an employer and would like more information about how to support an employee with cancer, we can help. Find out more.