How can I deal with co-workers who avoid me or will not talk about my diagnosis or treatment?

Emailz
1
Expert Answers

Cancer_and_Careers (Organization (Verified) ) - 10 / 13 / 2011

Hi there,

It would help to know a little bit more about the particulars of your workplace like was it close knit before you were diagnosed and so this treatment is different from how you related to them before, are the people you work with people you consider friends in the larger frame of your life, are these people who have either never been touched by cancer or been touched by cancer before, etc. In general, your options seem to me to be:

1) Try and sit down with your co-workers and prepare them for what’s coming up so they don’t start guessing the worst. Then focus the conversation on how you plan to cope and get work done, to alleviate any worries. Often, people will take their cues from you on how to handle the situation and if you seem to have it under control; your colleagues will react accordingly. This sit down might help you understand why they are treating you differently than before your cancer and make it easier to move forward with them. We have a bit of co-worker content on the site here:http://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/coworkers and this section is growing.

2) You could speak to your supervisor or HR about the situation with your co-workers and see if they have any thoughts on ways to improve the environment for you. Perhaps if it came from them it would be easier, of course the opposite is also possible.

3) You might also want to think about what it is you need from your co-workers and if it is possible to get it elsewhere and just have work be work, again this very much depends on answers to my earlier questions.

I know none of this is an exact solution, unfortunately there isn't a perfect answer for human nature. The best you can do is see if you can figure out what is causing their behavior and then decide if you have the energy/desire to work to alleviate the cause. Of course, if you feel there is something deeper going on and it verges on some sort of legal infringement then you might want to contact the Cancer Legal Resource Center to discuss your options (1-866-THE-CLRC).

Good luck!

Best,
Rebecca

Rebecca V Nellis
Director of Programs
Cancer and Careers
Join Now to ask a follow-up question or share your experience!
We'll help guide and support you through treatments.
Similar Questions
Can you talk about the different techniques for lymph node transplantation as practiced today by micro surgeons? How do they differ?
How can we encourage physicians to talk honestly with patients, families, and caregivers about Hospice and end of life decisions?
My friends all tell me that I am handling this too well. I do fall apart at times. I want them to realize I really need their support. How can I convey this?
I believe my boss is discriminating against me at work, but I cannot afford a lawyer, what can I do?
How do I deal with friends and family who want to take over now that they know I have cancer?
Note: All content on this site is informational and not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding your health.
Note: Usernames have been made anonymous and profile images are not shown to protect the privacy of our members.
Flag Content
Please explain why you are flagging this content. Thank you.
Thank you for flagging this content. We will look into it right away.
Give a 'Thank you' to
Close
Talk About Health
Add Answer

Close
1) Question:
2) Background Info (optional): What context or background information is relevant to this request?
Notes:
The more clear and thorough your request, the more likely you will receive support.
Many of our members are learning from this information or english might not be their first language. Please use standard english and spell out all words. For example, use 'you' instead of 'u'.
Close
Talk About Health
Please join TalkAboutHealth and you will be able to ask questions.
Newsletters
Close
Subscribe to our free updates for the latest news, best answers and featured experts!
Your Email:
Q&A Workshop Announcements
(Featured experts, answers, tips, & latest news.)
Q&A Workshop Summaries
(Answer summaries from our expert Q&A workshops.)
Best of TalkAboutHealth (weekly)
(The week's best answers, news & support.)
TalkAboutHealth Benefits
(Custom health, wellness & medical promotions from our partners.)

Partners become a partner

© Copyright 2014 - Talk About Health - Privacy Policy | Terms of Service
x Don't show again
Like us on Facebook?