According to the most recent statistics, 1 in 2 people in the UK will develop cancer at some point in their lives. Lissa, a locality manager from one of our services in Rickmansworth, became that 1 in February 2017. Lissa discusses the impact the diagnosis had on her work and home life.
Following an appointment for IVF treatment, Lissa was told that abnormalities had been found. This led to further tests and the subsequent diagnosis of endometrial cancer, “It was a huge shock”, Lissa explains.
Endometrial cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK with diagnosis rates increasing by 19% in the last decade. For Lissa her cancer was diagnosed early, at stage 1A, increasing her chances of survival and meaning that she didn’t need to undergo chemotherapy.
A cancer diagnosis turns anyone’s world upside down with worries including how it will affect work. “During this time, my motto was ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’”, Lissa explained. However, Lissa didn’t need to worry. From the moment she notified her line manager, Jane Devine, our Southern Operations and Development Manager and nominee for the Great South East 'Outstanding Contribution to Social Care' award, Jane immediately put measures in place for Lissa to take time off.
Lissa was also paid fully for sick leave, “It was such a relief when Walsingham Support agreed to pay my sick leave in full. I felt responsible after the diagnosis and didn’t want to be a financial burden on my family”. This is a common feeling with studies showing that many people diagnosed with cancer worry about the financial implications of their diagnosis.
Lissa underwent major surgery and says, “The only way I could cope is if I was honest with the team. They picked up extra work and made sure the people we support were ok”. Lissa, who has been with Walsingham Support for almost ten years, has developed strong bonds with the people we support. During her recovery, she planned a meetup with some of them, arranging coffee and lunch. Lissa also ensured she had regular phone calls with the people we support, “I wanted to keep them as relaxed and reassured as possible”.
In turn her team wanted to support her during her recovery, and they arranged for staff from other services in the South to help with the workload. Lissa was off work for 2.5 months, during this time she tells of how supportive the team and management were, “I received lots of messages of encouragement, the team sent flowers and Paul (CEO of Walsingham Support), also sent flowers and a card. The house looked like a florist!”, she jokes.
Lissa has now been in remission for 18 months and is working flexible hours so she can attend counselling and doctors’ appointments when needed. “I couldn’t have wished for better support, the team were lovely, they all rallied around me, they’ve actually become a little protective”, she laughs. “Without the support and encouragement of the Beacon Way team and management, I couldn’t have recovered the way I have”.
Thank you for sharing your experience and journey with us, Lissa.
Cancer affects more than 990 individuals every day. Today we share Lissa’s story to raise awareness and stand in solidarity with everyone dealing with cancer in the care sector.
We understand that themes discussed in this article may be distressing to some, if this has been the case, please contact Macmillian Cancer Support.
Source: Cancer Research UK