When I got the diagnosis I went straight to work and told my manager. Although we have a professional relationship, we do socialise as well. So he was very supportive. He was very accommodating – even when I couldn’t take my sick certificates to work, he wasn’t very stringent about it.
I couldn’t work for many months because it wasn’t just the physical aspects of the illness. It was the psychological aspects. I became very depressed afterwards. So it was a good seven months before I could contemplate returning to work, and it had to be a phased return because I lost a lot of my confidence because of the illness.
When I used to go and have my chemotherapy, there was a Welfare Rights Advisor there, Fiona. I just knocked on her door one day and asked if she could give me some support because of the financial issues I was experiencing after the reduction in my salary. Fiona was very understanding. I might not have applied for the benefit, let alone been awarded it, without her help. I always had that confidence that someone was there to make sure everything fell into place for me.
I got a lot of support from occupational health. When I was ready to come back they reduced my hours. I was just going in for a few hours a day, I wasn’t having client contact. So they put extensive support in place for me.
Working helped me feel less isolated because I wasn’t thinking about my illness or my prognosis. I needed to have something to keep me busy and keep things normal, and that’s what work gave me. Plus everyone around me understood and was very supportive. Being in that kind of environment actually aided my recovery, I think.