- Cancer Information
- Practical concerns
- Cancer, work and you
- For workers
- Key questions about cancer and work
- Should I tell my co-workers?
Should I tell my co-workers?
There is no wrong or right answer – it is a personal decision that depends on what you want. Sharing details about the diagnosis and treatment may make you feel uncomfortable, or you may not want to answer questions. You may be concerned your co-workers will treat you differently.
You can talk to your employer about whether or not you plan to tell your co-workers. Points to consider include:
- the types of relationships you have with other staff
- whether your workplace is collaborative, friendly and supportive, or distrustful and negative
- who you feel you can trust with personal matters
- the impact on team unity if you tell some people and not others
- how your workplace has dealt with other employees with cancer or other serious illnesses
- whether your co-workers need to know what to do if you become unwell at work.
It can be difficult to hide your illness if you work in a close-knit team. You may be away from work for some time. The cancer or treatment side effects may also have a visible impact on your behaviour or appearance. Your co-workers may wonder about these changes. Some may even become resentful if they think that you aren’t doing your fair share of work and don’t understand why.
Sharing information about your cancer with close workmates gives them an opportunity to express their concern for your wellbeing and discuss ways they can help you.
Talking to your co-workers
Kerryann White, Manager, People and Culture, Cancer Council SA; Nicola Martin, Principal, McCabe Curwood, NSW; Jane Auchettl, Coordinator, Education and Training Programs, Cancer Council Victoria; Craig Brewer, Consumer; Alana Cochrane, Human Resources Business Partner, Greater Bank Newcastle, NSW; Shona Gates, Senior Social Worker, North West Cancer Centre, North West Regional Hospital, TAS; Dianne Head, Cancer Nurse Coordinator, Metastatic Breast Cancer, Crown Princess Mary Cancer Centre Westmead, NSW; Alex Kelly, Talent Acquisition Business Partner, Aon, NSW; Prof Bogda Koczwara AM, Senior Staff Specialist, Department of Medical Oncology, Flinders Medical Centre, SA; Sharyn McGowan, Occupational Therapist, Bendigo Health, VIC; Jeanne Potts, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council Victoria; Michelle Smerdon, Legal and Financial Support Services Manager, Cancer Council NSW. We would also like to than the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions of this title.
View the Cancer Council NSW editorial policy.