Chances are, you might be working alongside someone who is diagnosed with breast cancer or has a family member battling the disease and you may not even know it. Discussing cancer is undoubtedly challenging and sensitive, and in a workplace, where boundaries between professional and personal often blur, it presents various complexities.
Before experiencing a family member’s diagnosis of breast cancer firsthand, I might not have fully grasped how to effectively support a colleague going through this ordeal. Not due to lacking care or sensitivity, but rather understanding when and how to offer support, cultivating a workplace that feels safe. For some, the workplace serves as a refuge from the harsh realities of dealing with cancer, a place where they can momentarily disengage. While others might find comfort in opening up about fears and concerns, they feel hesitant to share with family and friends.
As a colleague and friend, and drawing from my own experiences, I have learned the importance of discerning between empathy and sympathy in these situations. Initial reactions might naturally lean towards sympathy, but empathy often proves more beneficial. Navigating such situations is inherently challenging, and there’s no definitive guide on how to prepare – we can only learn and be patient when supporting colleagues through these tumultuous times.
Creating a Supportive Culture
A sense of community invariably brings comfort. Establishing a supportive environment is essential, ensuring that everyone, both men and women, feels understood and cared about, regardless of their circumstances. Recognizing individual differences is also crucial. It profoundly influences how we offer support to our colleagues, ensuring that our assistance meets their unique needs and preferences.
I consider myself fortunate to have been part of Odds On Compliance during this difficult time. It was a sanctuary where I didn’t feel encumbered by hesitation or vulnerability when sharing what I was navigating personally. The environment at Odds On was immensely supportive, allowing me to express my needs, ask for help, and share my thoughts without fear of judgment or misunderstanding.
At Odds On, we strive to perpetuate a culture that echoes with understanding, empathy, and unwavering support. It is a collective belief that makes room for real-life struggles, ensuring that every member feels a sense of belonging and support, particularly when life unveils its challenging facets, like the tumultuous journey that comes with cancer.
So, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we at Odds On renew our commitment to nurturing a work environment that stands as a pillar of support, mirroring the comfort, understanding, and flexibility that I was fortunate to receive during my personal journey.
It’s okay not to have all the answers or always know the right words to say. What truly matters is showing up with humility and a willingness to learn and adapt. Being open to correction and continuously striving to make colleagues feel supported when they need it the most, is the cornerstone of creating a nurturing and empathetic workplace environment during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and beyond.