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Episode 44: Work after breast cancer: Tackling the difficult conversations

Episode 44: Work after breast cancer: Tackling the difficult conversations

We recommend that listeners exercise self-care when listening to this podcast, as some may find the content upsetting.

Let’s be Upfront about working after breast cancer and tackling the difficult conversations you may need to have with your employer. Some people feel comfortable discussing their diagnosis and treatment, and find that their employer is understanding, supportive and compassionate, allowing them to focus on their health and recovery. Others, however, may find negotiating changes and voicing challenges with their employer difficult, making an already hard situation worse.

Joining us for this episode of Upfront are Greg Smith and Lisa Edgar. Greg has more than 20 years’ experience in executive coaching, mentoring and human resources consulting and has successfully led major organisational change programs in large organisations. Lisa is a BCNA member and had been working as an HR manager for three years when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and stopped work to focus on her recovery. Unfortunately, Lisa did not receive the support she needed from her employer.

We hear about how best to approach your employer to discuss your diagnosis and treatment and the impact it may have on your ability to work, what support you should expect from your workplace, challenges you may face when working after a diagnosis and what you can do if your employer is not supportive of you. 

This podcast was recorded in June 2022.

RESOURCES:

Upfront About Breast Cancer is a production of Breast Cancer Network Australia. Our theme music is by the late Tara Simmons, and this episode is proudly brought to you by Sussan.

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Want to get in touch? Visit our website at bcna.org.au, email us at contact@bcna.org.au, or call our Helpline on 1800 500 258

TRANSCRIPT:

Ad [00:00:00] BCNA’s Helpline provides a free, confidential phone and email service for people diagnosed with breast cancer. BCNA’s experienced team will help with your questions and concerns and provide relevant resources and services. Call 1800 500 258 or email contact at BCNA org dot au. Welcome to upfront about breast cancer.

Kellie [00:00:29] Breast Cancer Network Australia acknowledges the traditional owners of the land and we pay our respects to the elders past, present and emerging. This episode is produced on wurundjeri land of the kulin nation. Let's be upfront about working after a breast cancer diagnosis. There are some important initial and ongoing conversations that you need to have with your employer to ensure that you get the support that you are legally entitled to, but also the support that you need. And it's different for everyone. Joining us for this episode of Upfront is Greg Smith and Lisa Edgar. Greg has more than 20 years’ experience in executive coaching, mentoring and human resources. Lisa is a BCNA member and was working as an H.R. manager for three years when she was diagnosed with early breast cancer. She needed to stop working to focus on her recovery, and whilst the support from her employer was good initially, her need for flexibility in returning to work wasn't as supported. This episode of Upfront about Breast Cancer is an unscripted conversation with our guests. The topics discussed are not intended to replace medical advice, nor necessarily represent the full spectrum of experience or clinical option. So please exercise self-care when listening to this podcast, as the content may be triggering or upsetting for some. Welcome to you both. Lisa, when you first were diagnosed, tell us how your employer supported you.

Lisa [00:02:02] I had a really supportive team that I was working with and everyone showed a lot of care and concern for me. And there was a lot of yeah, a lot of support offered, you know, people wanting to know what they could do for me. And I initially told a close colleague of mine about it, I spoke with her about it, and I said that anyone else is welcome to know, but I won't be communicating directly with people because it was a bit much for me to do that. And my manager was the CEO of this medium size enterprise and I was able to have contact with him as well. And yeah, that that was that worked well. And I really wanted my message to get out to people because I thought the health message was an important one to say, you know, do your medical check. So sort of thinking of other people at that point thinking, gosh, if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. So I was very keen for people to know what was going on and because I knew I had to focus on me at that point in time, then, you know, it had to be explained. You know, my absence had to be explained as well.

Kellie [00:03:08] So you took leave off work or did you work during your treatment?

Lisa [00:03:14] I, as soon as I was diagnosed, I actually took time off. I didn't feel that I could do my job. I didn't have the emotional energy to do my job and my headspace was elsewhere. So I was accepting of the diagnosis. I understood that. But I also knew that to focus on me and, you know, the family with two primary school age kids, I did not have capacity to do my HR manager job. So I took time off initially to get some surgery done and then to understand where to from there. After surgery, though, you know, when the pathology was done, the whole course of treatment was sort of a little bit longer. So six months of chemotherapy and 25 sessions of radiotherapy and then some more surgery and ongoing Herceptin for the HER2 positive diagnosis meant that I just could not do the job as well. So I took a longer time off.

Kellie [00:04:14] Greg, there are so many possible scenarios for people in a work situation. How difficult is it to have that initial conversation with an employer? Lisa obviously you had a very good experience. Is that always the case?

Greg [00:04:31] Yeah, it's a really good question. I think it's probably that conversation's probably the first of many that a person that has been diagnosed with breast cancer might have. And as you said in your introduction, everyone's experience is different and each individual's will have their own way of dealing with this. But that said, if I generalised and I guess I'd say this for any really anyone with an illness, not just breast cancer, it's best to communicate as much as you can that you feel comfortable doing and doing it face to face. Now, as I certainly understand, listening to Lisa and she dealt with it the way that she felt was appropriate for herself, which is the right thing to do. But I think if I just generalised that by saying that is to try and have the conversation face to face and as soon as possible with your employer as a general piece of advice and I guess to perhaps assume positive intent. So go into that conversation assuming that the support will be there. If it's not, that's an entirely different matter. But go into the conversation with as much as you can a positive mindset and assume positive intent come out of the conversation because how the employer and the employee approach a situation like this and how they conduct the communications can make all the difference.

Kellie [00:06:03] Yes. And Lisa said that she was very transparent and upfront about what she needed as far as time off. I take it that that isn't always the scenario for people, and it might also depend on the size of the organisation. What could you say to people who might be feeling a little bit nervous that they don't know if they want time off or not? Sometimes you don't know how you're going to feel once you start having treatment.

Greg [00:06:28] Yeah, well, it's okay to not know. That's the first thing I'd say is going to be a lot that that you may not know, particularly in the early stages. So it's okay to not know and I'd just be as open and transparent as you can. Of course, I say that with the expectation of it being reciprocated, and there's a basic social norm of reciprocal commitment. And when commitment is not reciprocated, one party will withdraw from the relationship and financial considerations rise to the surface. That's how that's how that works. So I think we should expect, and people with breast cancer should expect their employer and to be supportive. There's a requirement of the employee to be supportive. And I think I would go into it with that mindset that they're going to be supportive. Now, of course, if that doesn't happen. As I said, that's an entirely different matter. And there are other avenues that you can go and talk about. I'm sure we'll talk more about that down the track as quickly as Lisa tells more of her story.

Kellie [00:07:50] So Lisa, you were having your treatment, which was extensive, and you knew you required that time off. When did you feel like you wanted to get back to work, or did you feel pressure to return to work?

Lisa [00:08:02] I didn't feel pressure to return to work because with the particular income protection insurance policy I had, I actually had to, I couldn't do part time work. At that point, I had to take time off. I had to be off for three months before it kicked in. So, I didn't have a huge bank of sick leave. So, you know, you start churning through the money. But I actually, you know, some people do manage to work through chemotherapy, even if I didn't have the financial and the income protection insurance that I did, I couldn't have worked while I had six months of chemotherapy because I was sick as a dog. You know, I had this three week cycle and one of the three weeks I was on top of the world. But you know, the others, I wasn't. So I wouldn't have been able to maintain working. That would have been more disruptive. And so I had because of those things and because of the work I was doing, it was agreed that someone would come in and do my job. They would backfill me. So I wanted to be ready to come back. You know, I wanted to be in a good space when I was coming back. There was so much unknown, you know, and I could go into that and I was sort of open to that. So I just thought, Well, I'll just not worry about that. That'll happen when it happens. And it wasn't until well after the radiotherapy, so it was 11 months later that I felt that I could be back at work part time, that I could actually commence coming back because until then I was just so depleted, you know, I just felt like I'd been in a bar brawl and come out worst from it. You know, I was on the ground. I was just it was pretty rugged, you know, I didn't feel great physically. I was ready to return to come back to the workforce, though, at about 11 months after diagnosis.

Kellie [00:09:56] And how did you approach that with your employer?

Lisa [00:09:59] I had been having conversations on and off over that time. I'd been having the odd coffee with my manager, and I had maintained contact with people in my team and a couple of others as well, so there'd been that contact, so it was and the person who was filling in for me was always reassuring to say, when you're ready to come back, I'll all be easing out, so it could be this nice fluid transition back and again. I think you get that upfront, people say that, but then when you're out of the picture for a while, the risk of being off totally and not sort of hovering around part time and people seeing you going through the ringer, is well I can't speak for them, but, you know, I just think it's kind of you're an ongoing reminder to them of what's going on. Whereas for me, I was out of the picture and then when I wanted to come back, I'd started having those conversations to say, yeah, I'm feeling ready for this now. And so we were, you know, talking about the work that I would do, and then when we were working out the plan, that's when the wheels fell off.

Kellie [00:11:04] How did they fall off?

Lisa [00:11:05] They fell off pretty spectacularly. Being a HR Manager I was aware there was a return-to-work arrangement, but not for a work sustained injury. So we're following a model of okay, a part time return to work, get sign off from your doctor and let's work out how much time that I over the weeks. I was starting off, you know, very small, you know, a short day, and then going to build from that and the work that was scoped out for me to do was in my job. And the idea was that they were happy with all of that, but they wanted me to report to the person in my role. And I said, ‘How do you come up with that?’ And it was quite shocking to me because, you know, when you've been in that bar brawl and you’re standing up, it just felt like a kick in the guts and I was back down again. I just didn't understand why with medical sign off, I would be required to report to my role. So I was made to feel like I was, well, I don't know what their intention was, but I felt like I was an annoyance, that I was ungrateful.

Kellie [00:12:20] Like they had to do it.

Lisa [00:12:22] And I should just shut up and take it and come back, what's my problem? So there was an absolute lack of understanding demonstrated to me at that time. And it's not the me that's sitting here today who's feeling strong. It was a very depleted, you know, person who was told, no, what's your problem, take this or, you know.

Kellie [00:12:47] So they were happy for you to return gradually on a part time basis. But it was reporting to the person who was filling in for you. Greg, listening to that story, what are your thoughts on that?

Greg [00:13:02] Oh, I think it highlights the problem of employers not understanding their employee and the circumstances and or a complete absence of understanding. Lisa, that is quite upsetting to hear that sort of treatment because I said earlier, you know, I think everyone should expect support and understanding and I think that's we that's just starting point. Clearly, that was not reciprocated in your case and that's quite, quite upsetting to hear that.

Kellie [00:13:45] Would you suggest, though, that it actually started well, so when you when you're talking about a reciprocal arrangement, the goodwill and the understanding seemed to be there. And Lisa obviously had a good understanding that being in H.R. and most people would not have that greater understanding of the way it should be. So quite often people feel that they should be grateful for what they're being offered rather than what they actually, you know, are entitled to or need.

Greg [00:14:13] But that's clearly not the case, though, to feel that you should feel or be put in that position to feel that way, Lisa, at all. And particularly at a time, as you said, you're feeling, you know, you're exhausted and your employer would deplete your energy was depleted. So not as you are today. So I really think that it also underlines another point is that you raised, Lisa, about you not being around. The reality is, if you've been out of the workplace or out for some time, then things will have changed in the organisation, you know, sometimes for the better and maybe sometimes for the worse. But they but they will have changed and adjustments are going to be necessary. It might be that even qualifications, if someone's in a role that requires new qualifications or a new piece of training they need to come up to speed with, it might involve something like that. Or it could just be the management's changed from when you left. Now, you're not responsible for any of that, but you have to deal with the consequences of it. And I think as much as you can, to stay in tune with what's going on, the organisation is a good thing. But as Lisa said, you know, we were going through lots of treatment and perhaps is the last thing you want to be doing is having conversations with your employer when you're doing everything to get all your energies going into your health, which is where it should be.

Kellie [00:15:50] So, Lisa, where did you go to from there? Did you try it or did you know straight away that that wasn't going to work for you?

Lisa [00:15:57] I kept negotiating. I kept, I thought, this is an entitlement. What's gone wrong here? I thought, I was actually quite naive thinking, thinking of the previous relationship, the professional relationship we've had. And I kept saying, you know, gently at first, because the last thing I wanted to do was pick a fight. And I'm trying to sort of just come back to work. And so, there was a bit of toing and froing and I was the one suggesting alternatives to that to try to find some middle ground. That certainly was not the case from the employer. And so then after much toing and froing, I thought, I need to get a lawyer because, you know, I believe I'm a union member. I believe in unions and I think this is it. You know, who's going to advocate for you when you can't? And I hadn't thought ahead to a bad health situation, and it had been an organisation with a very good culture and I was the HR manager. We had supported other people who'd been out for several months as managers and needed to return to work. And I had, you know, directly been involved in people returning that way. And the last thing I thought was that I would have this situation. It was so I was quite stunned. It took me a while to understand where we were at with that. And, you know, you just see people coming from their own perspective and I don't know how they frame it to think it was okay. I got glimpses of it, but yeah, I just needed to get a lawyer. I just needed an advocate because it was doing me and you know, when you're still in that recovery stage, you're not sleeping well, you don't have energy. It's precious. The energy you have is so precious. And I felt it was being wasted and burnt on trying to work out what's going on and how do we move ahead with this? How do I get back to work? Because financially I was depleted too. You know, I was the main wage earner in the family income protection insurance was half my income, so I needed to get back to work and I was really keen to. But getting a lawyer was great because it changed the dynamic. It didn't resolve the issue for then. What it meant was through that process they said, ‘No, I can't come back to my role part time as HR manager’, but that they would keep it open for me to the two year anniversary of my diagnosis and going off on leave. So I accepted that. You know, we tried to negotiate an exit. No. Again, was not made to feel that I was being reasonable. So I thought, well, I'll hang in there because the last thing I want to do is actually go for a job as if, you know, if my hair was still growing back from, you know, I wasn't feeling great. And then with that treatment too, professionally, I felt very vulnerable as well. So, I mean, I could have gone to the Human Rights Commission and you know, I considered making a complaint that way because the legal process would have been too expensive. But I again, was just feeling too vulnerable that, you know, if word gets out, I'm going to look like trouble, you know, and an H.R. manager who's taken the organisation to the Human Rights Commission, you know, you're not getting another job. That's how I felt at the time.

Kellie [00:19:11] And I don't think you'd be alone there. People don't want to rock the boat, and especially after they've been through such an emotionally and physically draining experience, not just breast cancer, any traumatic experience. It sounds really stressful. On top of everything else, that might have just been another added burden to what might have been hindering your recovery, because as we know from breast cancer treatment, the post treatment adjustment can take up to two years anyway, so just when you're actually physically starting to move forward and when your emotional system is coming off hold, which is what it goes into when you start treatment, you go into survival mode, so just as you're starting to come out of that and the emotional system is catching up and you're trying to get back on, we don't go back, we move forward to the next stage, and you've got this on top of you as well. It's an enormous stress.

Lisa [00:20:12] It was dreadful. And what gets me is it's a stress that didn't have to happen.

Kellie [00:20:17] And Greg, I would imagine you're listening to Lisa thinking it certainly did not need to happen. How can how can people try and avoid those sort of scenarios? It sounds like Lisa did everything she should have. And yet the outcome was fell very short.

Greg [00:20:35] It was subpar. Yeah. Look, firstly, Lisa, listen to the steps that you took and I can kind of feel some of the gaps in between all those steps in just the way that you you were telling your story, that you did everything that was reasonable from your end to do trying to negotiate, which is all the things. Kelly I would say negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. And I know Lisa said, look, I just kept negotiating, but I wasn't getting anywhere. And I think what I say is now, on the lawyer, I can give more legal advice, of course. But what I would say from my observations and not just with this, but with other employees in a similar situation where the employer's not being reasonable and you're doing everything you can reasonably possible by connecting correctly, by being open and honest, providing all the information that you have that you can possibly provide, given that there might be some information that's just not known. In my in my wife's case, my wife was diagnosed with early breast cancer in 2009 with triple negative, and I remember I was with her oncologist at the time and he said look with triple negative the stats about treatment go out the window they just don't have enough, I don't know, maybe ten years on, 12 years on, that's changed. But then he said, look, the stats are there too to determine what is the best treatment is a whole lot of websites to go and visit or research, go away and have a look at it and come back and tell me what you what you think you'd like to do it, so that it was in my wife's case and she, Lisa had an excellent employer, they provided, like every bit of support, everything you could possibly expect from an employer they did. And for me, I think that's, Kellie, a time to step up. It's a time for employers listening to this this podcast. It's a real chance to step up. I’ve got a saying for leaders. And it's is you know, you get the culture you deserve. And I think not only is someone like Lisa involved, but all your other employees sitting around and watching what you do as a leader to what you're doing to that person and making their own judgments about it. And when perhaps when they've got lots of opportunities and options to go elsewhere, they might just very well exercise those options. Maybe not at that moment, but a time down the track where they remember what they saw happened to in this case to Lisa. So the last thing I'd say, is that is that if you've done all of that and this is what Lisa did, I would say lawyer up. The one of the problems with lawyering up is it can add more stress and that may be not something that you want at that time. So as a sort of a qualifier there and I think, Lisa, you spoke of that because of the nature of what has to be done. But I wouldn't hesitate if your rights are really being violated in this in that way to go to a lawyer. And that would be my recommendation, but only after you've exhausted every reasonable option. And if the employer is just hell bent on being unreasonable, then I would play the lawyer card because you will find them, as Lisa found, the conversation will change instantly overnight.

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Kellie [00:25:02] As Lisa pointed out, lawyering up can be expensive. How do you know when what you're hoping for or asking for is reasonable? What is determined by reasonable? And especially like if you're in a physical job that requires physical expectations, what, who and what deems reasonable?

Greg [00:25:25] Yeah, look, I think this is where the commonsense test comes in. You can refer to legislation and the Fair Work Act and the Discrimination Act that are quite explicit about the way in which employers should treat employees. And I'd certainly one thing I would say is, it's worth actually spending a bit of time just to educate yourself on that. It's not particularly difficult. It's on those websites in either Discrimination Act or the Fair Work Act, you'll be able to find in very simple terms, in proportion, a general sense of what can be expected. A lot of it is common sense rather than just relying on the law. And that's what I say that lawyering up. It's better if you can appeal to your employer's better sense about what is reasonable and determine that between each other than relying on legislation or legal process. But if all of that fails, then the lawyers will step in and they will be very clear about what they expect for their client. And but it's but it will it does add stress, and Lisa, I'm not sure if you want to say more on that, but you just have to be aware of that, that it adds another layer of complexity. But sometimes you've got to do it. And I wouldn't have any hesitation saying to someone if they've exhausted all those avenues to do that.

Kellie [00:26:56] Where did it end up, Lisa? Like, what did you were you able to negotiate? Did does it have a happy ending?

Lisa [00:27:02] Oh, I'm in a very happy place. It continued to be unpleasant, though. And yeah, just as Greg was saying, I, I knew a lot of this industrial information, but I did double check on the fair work site. I did contact Fair Work. I looked at the Human Rights Commission information. I looked at our work policies on all of this to see that, you know, what I was seeking was reasonable. And I think that, you know, when you get the sense that an employer is not being reasonable. Having three of those conversations and getting the same result, they're not going to turn around on the third or fourth and go, Oh, yeah, I was wrong. I'm sorry. I see what you're saying now. And it's interesting that it is. It was in my case, it was left to me to try and negotiate something which is odd when it's the person who's feeling, you know, knocked about. When I got that extension of my unpaid leave from them, my income protection insurance continued. I got the sense that the management changed. I got the sense that as this new manager made no contact with me as the months rolled by, that I wasn't really going to be the person that that individual wanted to work with in this role. So again, because I was in my role, I saw the writing on the wall that I thought they will not want me back. And as much as I didn't want to have to get another job, I also thought, I don't think they want me back. Nothing tells me they want me back. Not the wonderful team of colleagues, but that senior layer with that sits the culture. There was no support from that layer, even those who were bystanders to stuff. And, you know, I subsequently heard from one of them who I had respected. She made inadvertent contact with me a year or so later, and I said, ‘How did that happen?’ And she said, you know, these aren't her words, but that they were all just sort of ducking for cover. They were, they felt vulnerable. And I thought, well, I understand that, but you left the person who's had cancer and rugged cancer treatment on their own. So that wasn't great. And so, I actually didn't want to work with those senior managers. I couldn't picture myself going back into the workplace without feeling sick. I just thought, I can't do that. I'm not. And I thought I would, It's my back up, but it's the backup I had. But I started looking for another job and I thought, I need to create my own return to work and I can't go back full time at that point because yeah, even though it was it was about a year after active treatment, but I would but only a few months actually was less than that because I had Herceptin up until the January and I started to, I thought, they don't want me back either. So, I sort of flipped it. I thought, I don't want to go back. I can't go back, but they're not going to want me back. So, I started saying I was going to come back. I started because I thought, I'm going to force your hand, you know, pay me out. You know, I'd tried to do that. It was obviously the relationship was not tenable anymore, but they wanted me to just either shut up and come back. And I knew I just wasn't going to, I couldn't do that. You know, be the good girl. Come back. It's like, you know, just take what you're given. I thought. No, I actually don't want that. So, yes, I thought, well, I'm going to share the discomfort here. And so I started talking about, oh really looking forward to coming back. And yeah, lo and behold, there was a restructure, and my job was made redundant. And I could see that coming a mile away because I thought that's the only way that they could really get rid of me. And I had already seen they had someone come in doing some project work, and lo and behold, they got it. But I just thought, no, I'm moving on. So I got that. And I was very fortunate that I found a part time job in a development area of HR which is my passion. And so, I took a career step back because I needed with a new organisation to learn with my hair still, you know, at about three centimeters that chemo afro, and I thought, I need to have a patch that I get energy back on and I need to be kind to myself. I can't take on the breadth of HR with the new organisation. I'll just do this. And it was three days a week and I didn't tell anyone there about, you know, I didn't disclose my health background. And I found that extremely stressful doing the job interview. I was delighted to get the job interview, but I thought I need to be truthful in the interview. And I was just praying they wouldn't ask me something that I had to fudge in some way. Just because I was feeling vulnerable. There wouldn't have been anything. They didn't know me from a bar of soap. They wouldn't have been anything about how I was presenting that would have made them, you know, question my abilities in the role. So, I did the interview, but after I did that interview, I just had to pull the car over and just balled my eyes out because just the stress of it. And I just thought this didn't have to happen. It was so much stress. So that was hideous. And I had some more surgery before I started in that job and they were lovely. They deferred my start date back. I started doing work from home for the first few weeks so that I could commence it and I thought, ‘Oh, where were you when I needed you’. And I thought, Well, you're here now. I need you now, and you're here now.

Kellie [00:32:22] Yeah. So, you did. You took a step back in your work hours to move forward with your health, both physical and mental.

Lisa [00:32:29] And it was this and it was a wage decrease as well. So, you know, I had lost wages from the behavior of the employer and then I had a career step back too.

Kellie [00:32:38] Yes. Greg, what are the final tips then for those both, like you mentioned, potential employers listening and to those like Lisa that you've got to make some decisions. But it would appear that initial and ongoing conversations are really important. And to Lisa's point on not disclosing. What is what is the duty of care on both sides for that?

Greg [00:33:04] Well, as I understand it, as employee not required to disclose your diagnosis, but it's better in the long run to be open and honest about it, as Lisa was saying. So there's no requirement that compels anyone to disclose any aspect of their diagnosis. But as Lisa said, people will see, even if you don't say anything, people will see changes, physical changes in you if you're in treatment. So, my advice would be to establish that said to be open and honest and transparent as much as you can with the expectation that that's going to be reciprocated. And I think for employers and the more you can do that, the better. And I think for employers, there's an absolute opportunity to step up and many do in when there's when an employee's facing a situation where they need time off, whether it be through an illness or family violence or whatever it is, it's a real opportunity. As Lisa said, it doesn't need to be like that. And it's a real opportunity for that employer to really show their values and how valuable they are as an employer to employees. And that will serve them much better on the retention stakes than just about anything else you can do. It'll build trust with your employees and not just with the person who's affected, but with your entire team. Because they’ll be watching and looking at how you respond, and they will judge that either warmly or harshly, depending on what the case may be. So, my advice to employers for employers listening to this podcast would be to really engage and do as much listening as you possibly can. And try and gain as much understanding at a time when it's not maybe not even easy to understand. It may invoke fears in the employer, too. They may feel sad and unsure about how to cope. So there's an opportunity for the affected person to help them come across that bridge in terms of their own understanding and develop that empathy. But that's the first thing I would say is not rush to judgment, but take the time to understand the situation and ask the employee, you know, how can we help, what's going to work and maybe even do a bit of your own research and look at some solutions. There's lots of really great tips on the web about, you know, this place was taught before that returned to work. Maybe it's a gradual return or perhaps it's with less hours or maybe with employees that there might be a job that you can swap with someone. If you're doing manual work, we're liftings involved and that may not be possible. When you first return to work, then maybe there's a job you can swap. If you're perhaps a retail employee who is on your feet all day, that may not be also possible that maybe you could perhaps do stock control or some other work that in the short period until you were well enough to do, go back to what you were doing before. There's lots and lots of options, but it needs both parties to come together and work out and agree on a plan. And it sounds like, Lisa, that was pretty much a big struggle in your case.

Lisa [00:36:39] Yeah, fair and reasonable is important on both sides being fair. Yeah, all employee needs to be fair and reasonable and so does an employer. And I think that, yeah, a slight inconvenience for an employer can make the world of difference to someone who's trying to get back.

Greg [00:36:57] One of the one of the key elements for leaders in building the right sort of connection with employees is trust. And it's an ideal way to show just how you can do that in a very, very strong way by being able to support, provide to support, particularly when it may be tricky for the employee's the employer to do that, to go the extra mile. And I'm sure most employees would return that kind of support in spades. So I think there's so many compelling reasons for why you do it, rather not do it, that it's just clear to me about what needs to be done.

Kellie [00:37:48] Yes. Thank you both, Greg and Lisa, for joining us on upfront today. If you've just been diagnosed with breast cancer and are working and need some resources BCNA’s, My Journey has a range of them about work and breast cancer. Sign up by visiting my journey dot org dot au. This podcast was brought to you with thanks to Sussan. Don't forget to subscribe to Upfront About Breast Cancer, download, leave a rating and review and complete the survey that you'll find in the show notes. Support BCNA through your organisation's workplace giving program and help BNCA empower people diagnosed with breast cancer to make informed decisions regarding finances and employment. Thanks for joining us. I'm Kellie Curtain. It's good to be upfront with you.

Ad [00:38:49] BCNA’s Online Network is an active peer to peer support community where people affected by breast cancer can find information and connect with others who understand what you're going through. Read posts, write your own, ask a question, start a discussion and support others. The online network is available for you at every stage of your breast cancer journey, as well as your family, partner and friends. For more information, visit BCNA dot org dot au forward slash online network.