Michelle_BCNAMichelle_BCNA Member Posts: 4

Welcome - Thank you for joining this online group!

My name is Michelle and I’m a Program Coordinator at BCNA. My main focus is to drive a new Work and Breast Cancer program. This program aims to increase the capacity of both employees and employers to support employment following a diagnosis of breast cancer.

In 2016 BCNA conducted research to identify gaps in information and support in the workplace for both employees and employers following a diagnosis of breast cancer. This program will deliver a range of support initiatives to fill these gaps and will include resources, an advisory (information and referral) telephone service and peer to peer discussions within BCNA’s online network.

How can you help with this program?

We’re wanting to start discussions within the online network around work and breast cancer. To do this we want to hear your experiences – good or challenging! We want to build a list of key challenges, inform discussions and build a network of online champions on the topic of work and breast cancer.

If you feel comfortable – we would love for you share your experience of breast cancer and work with us? Did you have challenges relating to your employment? Did you have a very supportive employer? Were you self-employed? Do you have tips for others going through this now?

I look forward to hearing from you and reading your experience in the comments below. You can also contact me on [email protected] or 1800 500 258.




  • nikovnikov Melbourne, VICMember Posts: 81
    Good morning Michelle,

    I can see that you posted this a while back but I think it's still important that I share my experience with having breast cancer in the work place.

    I was admitted into hospital on December 31st 2016 and was due back to start at work Jan 3rd 2017. I SMS'd my manager and supervisor and advised them that I was in Hospital and will not be back on the 3rd and that I am unsure of when I will return as the medical team were unaware of what was wrong. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on Jan 3rd 2018 so after a couple of days, I was able to send another SMS advising them of the diagnosis. 

    I was back at work full-time on Jan 9th 2017 and had a 1:1 meeting with my manager and she began asking questions I didn't have the answer too, "How severe is your cancer?" "How much time of work will you need?" "Will you be requiring treatment?" "Will you be requiring surgery?" and I didn't know anything until I met with my Surgical Oncologist on Jan 13th. My manager made  a point that I do NOT answer any hospital calls during work hours, instead ask the hospital to call me back after hours so I had to sneak around every time my mobile would ring. She also kept patting me on the back whenever I was distracted, thinking it was her way of making me feel better but it actually made me feel worse, so I let her know that patting me on the back wasn't making me feel better and she was taken aback. My manager also kept saying, "it can't be that severe if you're back at work" "you're young, you will bounce back really quickly" "you'll be fine, try not think about it too much" "it can't be cancer because you're so young, it's most likely something else". At that point in time, I just wanted to quit my job...but I knew for financial reasons I couldn't.

    There was an induction my supervisor and I had organised and my Manager had to do a welcome introduction. I had my phone in my pocket and could feel that someone was ringing so I excused myself and started walking towards the bathroom (I knew that this phone call would give me my surgery date) which is where I took the call. As I walked out of the bathroom my Manager walked around the corner and asked me where I went and I just told her that I had to take a call and that I was relieved to finally have a surgery date. She glared at me and told me that I shouldn't have answered it and asked them to call back tonight or let it go to voice mail. 
    She then asked me to go back to the induction. I was really devastated because this was something revolving around my health, my life!

    Since her father had fallen ill, she began to "believe" that I needed time off when I needed time off. She went on a secondment and had my supervisor step up as acting manager which made going through my treatment a little easier. Whenever I needed time off, he allowed me to take time off, I was able to make phone calls and answer calls during work hours, whenever I had appointments, I didn't have to apply for leave and whenever I needed time off, he was really supportive. 

    I hope this helps!

Sign In or Register to comment.