‘More workplace support is needed for cancer patients’

Lynette McKendry, work support cancer
Lynette McKendry

A breast cancer survivor who is returning to work while fighting cancer has called for more support for others in her position.

Lynette McKendry wants more support for people with cancer wanting to return to work. When met others in her situation whilst receiving chemotherapy treatment, she discovered many encountered difficulties at work.McKendry works for the Department of Justice and said it has fully supported her, but others have not been so lucky with other employers. She recalls how one friend’s line manager did not contact her for the entire six months she was off,” she told BBC News.

“Then they were on the phone every two weeks asking her when she was coming back to work.”

This lack of support can become yet another barrier to achieving a normal life for the tens of thousands of working age cancer survivors in the UK. With many cancer survivors being forced to leave work, they lose out on another part of every-day life. According to Paula Kealey of Macmillan Cancer Support, there needs to be greater awareness among employers about dealing with cancer.

“Almost half of people here living with cancer have to make significant changes to their working life after diagnosis, with some having to leave their jobs completely,” said Kealey.

“Employers have an obligation to do the right thing under the Disability Discrimination Act, which protects people who have cancer from discrimination at work.

“We are urging employers to have the conversation and to have flexibility, that more people with cancer can return to work in a role they can manage,” she added.

Lynette McKendry has achieved a successful return back to work by splitting her week between the office and working from home and said her employer and line manager had been excellent.

McKendry has achieved a successful return back to work by splitting her week between the office and working from home and said her employer and line manager had been excellent.

“I think it’s critical that the employer is there to support the employee during their time off, as well as trying to get them back into work either during or after their treatment is finished.

McKendry’s boss, Alison McIlveen, said: “We have a responsibility to do what we can and see how we can support people back into the workplace.”

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