Be the Boss Over Cancer

My wife has cancer and is in the middle of treatment, but things could get worse. In my opinion, she had talked too much at her workplace already about her condition, with many details. She is a manager and has people that take her orders. The place naturally needs to make money and I am afraid that she soon will be seen as a liability. Her bosses would not say too much now for legal reasons, but I am afraid they will soon try to let her go. She is 62 years old and she was very healthy, but now... I think she feels she can confide in her coworkers, but I am not so sure. One coworker of her same level already told her he does not care if she has cancer, that the cancer is her business. Even some more friendly coworkers estimate that she had said too much. I told her to be careful with what she says, but I know she does not want to change her ways. What do you guys think?

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  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Aug 15, 2013

    Career Coach Comment:


    Your wife is fortunate that you have her best interest in mind. If she has already gotten feedback that she is divulging too much information about her cancer, then even if just one person feels this way, it is likely that this may be true, even if it is just perception. At Cancer and Careers we get so many questions about what to say and whom to say it to. Our response is usually that it is a very individual choice and while I haven't communicated directly with your wife, clearly she has felt comfortable about being open and candid about her situation. 

    My advice is that perhaps your wife can find one colleague who is not one of her direct reports with whom she can confide in. It may also make sense for her to find an external support group to attend if she isn't already doing this.

    You are correct in assuming that people have biases and make assumptions based upon very little information and often they can be negative in nature, particularly when they do not have any direct experience with the situation themselves.

    Please tell your wife that you are not asking her to be someone she is not, you are just suggesting that she channel her energy and communication in a different direction. 

    I hope this is helpful!

    Take care,


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