10 Ways To Support a Coworker Who Has Breast Cancer

Why is Concordance Healthcare Solutions, a medical supply distributor, concerned with promoting breast cancer awareness? 

Because breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death. Chances are you or someone you know—a family member, a friend or a coworker—has been, or will be, affected by a breast cancer diagnosis.

Here are some of the latest statistics about breast cancer in the U.S.:

  • About 1 out of every 8 women and 1 out of every 833 men will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
  • As of January 2021, there are 3.8 million women who already have a history of breast cancer. This disease will be fatal for an estimated 43,600 women during the year.

The good news is there’s evidence that early detection through regular screenings saves lives. According to the American Cancer Society, while incidence rates of breast cancer have been trending upward by 0.5% per year in recent years, death rates decreased by 1% per year between 2013 and 2018, presumably because of early detection and treatment.

What you can do for your coworker

If you learn a coworker has been diagnosed with breast cancer, allow them to guide the right time to bring it up—if they want to talk about it at all. Respect their privacy. If you consider yourself a close friend, your coworker may feel more comfortable speaking with you about their diagnosis outside of the office.

Here are some suggestions of ways to support a coworker who has breast cancer.

As a work team: 

  1. Cancer treatments are usually scheduled during working hours and side effects from cancer treatments are unpredictable. Your coworker may need time off. Include them in creating a plan—who, what, when, and how will their responsibilities be covered while they’re on medical leave? 
  2. Use email instead of texts or phone calls if you need information from your coworker when they’re away from work. Keep them in the loop on important projects by designating one person on the team with the responsibility of keeping your coworker informed.
  3. Send small comfort gifts regularly while your coworker is on medical leave. This could be flowers or balloons, a gift basket, a gift certificate for takeout from their favorite restaurant or just a get-well card.
  4. When your coworker returns, reassure them that the team is ready to be flexible and accommodating of their lower energy level and capacity to get work done. 
  5. Talk about work! Your coworker is probably looking for distractions from their health concerns.

As a friend:

  1. Let your friend decide when to talk about their illness. When they do, just listen.
  2. Offer suggestions of how you can help: cook a meal, clean the house, grocery shop or run errands. Be respectful of other family members’ privacy. Always call or text before coming to their house.
  3. If your friend is feeling up to it, take them out for a relaxing outing. Even sitting in a park doing nothing can lift their spirits.
  4. Talk about anything other than cancer.
  5. If your company has a benefit and leave bank, donate your unused sick leave and vacation days to your friend.

Concordance Healthcare Solutions wants to help you stay focused on patient care, not logistics

If your organization cares for patients living with cancer, Concordance Healthcare Solutions can provide the specialized oncology equipment and supplies you need, when and where you need them. Thanks to our expansive supply chain network, we have all kinds of oncology care products available and can get them shipped directly to your patients through our Front Step Patient Direct Shipment program. Your patients get the supplies they need quicker, and you can stay focused on patient care instead of procurement and logistics. 

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