Sharing the News With Your Co-Workers

April 11, 2024

Sharing a brain cancer diagnosis with co-workers can be an incredibly challenging and sensitive task. It’s important to approach this conversation with care, clarity, and consideration for both your own well-being and the well-being of your colleagues. Here are some steps to guide you through this process:

Prepare Yourself Mentally: Before sharing your diagnosis, take some time to process your own emotions and thoughts about it. Understand that it’s okay to feel a range of emotions, including fear, sadness, or uncertainty. Seek support from friends, family, or a therapist if needed. 

Choose the Right Time and Place: Select an appropriate time and place to have this conversation. Consider scheduling a meeting with your team or speaking with your supervisor privately. Ensure that you have enough time to have a meaningful discussion without interruptions.

Gather Information: Before speaking with your co-workers, make sure you have accurate information about your diagnosis and treatment plan. This will help you answer any questions they may have and provide reassurance.

Plan What You Want to Say: Consider writing down key points you want to convey during the conversation. Be honest and direct about your diagnosis, but also emphasize your commitment to your work and how you plan to manage your responsibilities during treatment.

Be Transparent: Share as much information as you feel comfortable with. If comfortable, let your co-workers know the type of cancer you have, its stage, and the recommended treatment plan. Encourage them to ask questions and express their concerns.

Address Their Concerns: Understand that your co-workers may have their own emotions and concerns about your diagnosis. Be patient and empathetic in addressing their feelings and questions. Reassure them that you’re taking steps to manage your health and that you appreciate their support. 

Set Boundaries: While it’s important to be open with your co-workers, remember that you have the right to privacy. You don’t have to share every detail of your diagnosis or treatment if you’re not comfortable doing so. Let your co-workers know how you prefer to communicate about your health moving forward. 

Discuss Work Arrangements: If necessary, discuss any adjustments to your work schedule or responsibilities during treatment. Be clear about your availability and any accommodations you may need. Assure your co-workers that you’re committed to maintaining productivity as much as possible. 

Express Gratitude: Finally, express your gratitude for their support and understanding. Let your co-workers know that their encouragement means a lot to you during this challenging time.

Follow Up: Keep your co-workers updated on your progress and any changes in your health or treatment plan. Consider establishing regular check-ins to maintain open communication and address any concerns that may arise.

Sharing a brain cancer diagnosis with co-workers is undoubtedly difficult, but approaching it with honesty, empathy, and openness can help foster understanding and support in the workplace. One patient stated, “I was really nervous at first to discuss my prognosis with my boss and wondered if I would even still have a job. It actually ended up feeling like a huge weight lifted after letting my boss know my situation and he ended up helping with my schedule around my treatment.” Remember to prioritize your own well-being throughout this process and lean on your support network for guidance and encouragement.