Co-workers silence about cancer

Have any of you found that co-workers totally ignore what you went through with cancer?

I was diagnosed with early stage 1B1 cervical cancer this past May, had a radical hysterectomy early July, and am grateful to not need chemo nor radiation. My first tests 4 months after surgery recently shows I am cancer free!

When I first found out cancer cells were found, it was devastating to not know how much of my body had cancer until weeks later after the results of my first Pet Scan. I consider those my 'lost weeks'. I was in a fog. Fortunately cancer was located only on the cervix. Because of my fear of the unknown and facing my own mortality and feeling depressed, I initially found it very difficult to talk about with people at work, so I told just a few. Not that I minded others knowing, but because I was still processing my own feelings about it and did not want to start crying.

Before leaving for my surgery and subsequent 2 months off I told my closest co-workers to please let others know. But I sensed that talking about cancer made them uncomfortable. I got one visit that entire time from my closest co-workers. When I returned I was surprised to hear that very few knew what I had gone through. There were many I whom I know knew about it, but said nothing. That really hurt my feelings. All kinds of attention has gone to a co-worker who had heart issues, or one with a severe appendix removal, but nobody ever mentions and rarely discusses my cancer. Is it because it is a cancer is the woman's 'private' area? Because of a stigma with cancer? Because it makes them face their own fears of cancer?

It just makes me feel even more lonely in dealing with this cancer that nobody recognizes it, or asks about how I feel. Today, at my office Christmas party, the CEO talked about how the company was able to survive adversity in the market, and that some individuals also have come through difficulty recently. He mentions the man who had heart issues, the man who had the appendicitis issue, and they receive applause. Here I am thinking he is going to mention me too. But he doesn't. Dealing with my cancer has been the most difficult thing I have had to face. Not to diminish what other co-workers have had to deal with, but they seem to be receiving well wishes and compassion yearn for, and I would have very much liked that also as part of my healing.


  • beckyracn
    beckyracn Member Posts: 322
    CONGRATS on remaining cancer
    CONGRATS on remaining cancer free! That's great news.
    Cancer is not something many people like to talk about...almost like it might be contagious.
    You stated that you only let your closest co-workers know of your dilema and asked that they tell others. Apparently they were uncomfortable with the task you passed on to them. People do like to gossip, but this topic is one that people do avoid.
    I can understand your hurt feelings as I'm sure many of us here can. When I left my job to head out on this journey, I was told by co-workers (the few close one's I'd let know what was going on) to let them know if I needed anything; help cleaning, cooking, etc. I never called. I didn't want to drag them into my misery. A few times I stopped by work and put on my best face. They were all 100% behind me still, but I looked good, so they believed I was doing well. I did not look like a cancer patient. One of my bosses sent me a card...once. The other one hired someone to replace me and tried to prevent me from returning to work. I had to fight to keep my position and continue to fight to keep my job. Finally, the boss causing me all the grief got fired cause of good documentation on my part and the union backing me. Then the other boss took over where the fired one had left off. Once again, good documentation and the union backing me put her in her place. She was warned to back off, this was her first warning, if she continued, she would be looking for new employment. Things cooled off for a while, but she's started again and I am putting her back in her place once again.
    Maybe your boss didn't include you, because this is a taboo subject. Let him/her know how you feel. People cannot read your mind...let them know how you feel. When they ask how your feeling and you reply "Okay", they are going to believe you. When you ask someone how they are, don't we take their reply at face value?
    I am sorry that you did not receive the recognition you deserved and needed. I'm glad you came here and vented! And twice as glad that your remain NED! ((HUGS))
  • riannarame
    riannarame Member Posts: 2
    Co-workers silence
    I know exactly how you feel. People really don't know what to say to you when you have cancer. I lost some friends after my illnes because I felt like when I needed them most, they bailed on me! It teaches you who your real friends are.
    I has also taught me how to treat others who may get sick.
    I understand how your feelings would be hurt. It may be that the manager who was speaking was not aware of your struggle
    Hang in there and enjoy your clean bill of health!
  • Domina
    Domina Member Posts: 62
    co-workers silence about cancer

    I am sorry you had/have to deal with that. I just was Dx with grade 2 endometrial cancer 12/21/10, do not know stage till after my complete hysterectomy in 2 wks. I have been in mist since symptoms started 4 mos. ago & in the fog since the Dx. My supv. calls prayer huddles if someone has the flu, but when I try to advise her of the extent of my surgery she makes jokes like are they leaving you your ****? I realize her jokes are a way for her to deal w/it but it makes me feel like chopped-liver. I have told people little by little but all they say is "oh". Nothing willever be the same. I hope things turn around 4 u. Stay strong & realize you have friends & love here.