Back to work challenge and now very upset

Hi Ladies,

So finally 20 months after diagnosis with bc, I finally started back to my previous company on a 2 days a week phased return basis. I was so looking forward to getting my working life back.

But I am so upset. They had put me in an office on my own in a seperate building from the hotel where I worked prior to being ill. No one else is in that office nor even on the same floor as me.No one spoke to me or even came to see me. The HR lady put a laptop onto the desk and told me to complete an online course. She said that I now have to prove to them that I can still do the job. And then after 5 hours, she phoned me to tell me that I was to go home.
When I phoned the hotel on the following day to say that I was unhappy with the situation, I was told that I had to take it or leave it. That I was now nothing but trouble to the company. The sad thing is that I was part of the management team, but it doesnt seem to be the case anymore.

So now it seems that I have to take them to a tribunal, which is not what I wanted to do.
I am just getting my head around the fact that I have to wear a sleeve because of lymphodoema. And now this!
Honestly do we not have enough to cope with? I know that I should be counting my blessings but I am so very upset by the actions of this employer.

I hope that you are all having a better time of it.



How awful for you. I feel appalled what has happened - especially as my job is in HR. I hope that today is just a one off but in case it isn’t I will try to give you some practical advice.

Is there anyone else in the business that you have a connection/friendship etc. with that you can talk to? Maybe no-one knows that you are back. Perhaps people don’t know how to deal with you - we all know that cancer is a dirty word and unless we raise it, others are loathe to. If you can find a pal to have a coffee with, meet a few people etc. I am sure that will help.
From a legal point of view I’m sure you know that you are covered under the DDA. What you would need to do before anything else is to raise a grievance about how you are being treated i.e. moved offices; proving you can do your job (with or without adjustments for your “disability”; how you were told to take it or leave it. If you don’t do that, you are reducing any compensation you get in the event you do go to a tribunal. I would advise trying to deal with it informally first if possible - who is your boss, can you talk to them.

Don’t give up. It makes me so cross to hear about people treating others like this. I am so lucky I have a very supportive employer

Let me know if I can give any more help

Sharon x


I’m sending some hugs((((((())))))))

I can’t believe that work can treat you that way after what you have gone through. make sure everything is documented just in case it does go to a tribunal. I hope to start work in November and I’m dreading the responces already but I know I couldn’t cope with what you are having to face and no-one should have to cope with it

Are you able to walk around the place to show everyone you are back and start some conversations first as some people do find it hard to know what to say to us if they haven’t kept in contact

wow what an awful way to be treated. im sure you have a case for litigation , you deserve better than that . cant offer you any thing but a very big HHHUUUGGG .take care im thinking about you love lynn xxxxx

Are you in a union Lambkin ? I think you need to have them behind you. I cannot believe how badly you have been treated, they should be disgusted with themselves.

Let us know how you get on.

Linda xx

Hi lambkin

Can I just add to what others have already said and say how disgusted I am with how you have been treated at work.

I can’t add any more to the excellent advice you have already been given,but am thinking of you.

Love and take care


Hi Lambkin

This sounds an appalling situation, but I’m glad to see you are getting such good advice from other forum members.

I will try to point you in the direction of some more good advice to add to what the other members said. You might find the Cancer Backup site useful as it has very good information on work issues. The relevant section is at

I think it might also be a good idea for you to phone our helpline at Breast Cancer Care so you can talk through you particular situation in detail. It is free and on 0808 800 6000. It is open Monday - Friday, 9am - 5pm
Saturday, 9am - 2pm

I hope this helps Lambkin and please keep posting to let us know how you are getting on

Best wishes



Breast Cancer Care

Why are people so mean!!! Like you i returned to work but everything went wrong so now i am off sick again and the thought of returning churns my stomach over! I have now got the union involved and am writing everything down and sending copies of my letters to all concerned. I believe my boss wants me out! I was a good teacher loved my work then breast cancer arrives along with my marriage break up at a time when people should help they just do the dirty on you. Take everyones advice …I certainly am!

Hi Lambkin,

how utterly awful for you!! I just can not believe that people can be so mean. Sending you a humungous cyber hug for starters ((((((((((0))))))))))

After all you’ve been through I just find it unbelievable that your colleagues should treat you this way. God forbid it should happen to them!!! To say that you are ‘nothing but trouble to the company’ is absolulely unacceptable and I personally would love to find out who these people are so we can all go down there and kick some ar*e!!!

Now I’m really mad!!! Don’t know what else to say really.

Please take care of yourself and try not to let the bu**ers grind you down (easy to say I know),


Hi Lambkin,
Just one more message of support, keep your chin up girl.
On a practical note, write down everything that happens! and as much word-for-word as you can - particularly what they said about take it or leave it and being nothing but trouble. Do this every day - you may rely on it later as ‘evidence’ and it’s so easy to get muddled. I really hope it can be sorted by friendly means, but you need your ammo if it’s gonna be a fight.
All the very best for a better time of it

Like Sharon, I work in HR and I would be very shocked if I discovered managers in my organisation behaving in this manner to someone newly returned from a prolonged period of sick leave.

You have already had lots of advice from others, but do you have access to occupational health services where you work? If so, they should be able to advise your manager and HR about a suitable staged return, including any reasonable adjustments under the DDA. We have an absence policy that covers staged returns and expect managers to work with HR to facilitate a successful return to work, using the advice from occupational health. I would assume that your organisation also has a policy and it would be useful if you could get a copy.

Good luck.


Girls I just wanted to say thank you for all your support.

Am still off work. Phased return to work now further delayed. And I don’t know if I will ever have the confidence and courage to return to that job.

Have spoken to Breastcancer care and have been referred to various disability help lines. So have been very busy contacting them and various letters are now in progress as we speak. So far the only adjustment that the company are willing to make is to remove a “man” figure on the toilet door. No help! So watch this space. I will keep you posted.

Thanks to kelyn, and princess18 for the cyberhugs and everyone else for their support and thoughts.


Hi Lambkin

Although my experience has not been as bad as yours (see my post ‘Work is a nightmare!’) I think it comes from the same place and I completely sympathise.

I returned to work 3 weeks ago, also on a phased basis, and have been so upset that I have been in tears, on and off, for the past week. Like you, I was looking forward to going back and to getting back into a familiar routine and my employer’s attitude has set me back emotionally to the entent that I am tempted to put my notice in, even without another job to go to.I think experiencing cancer is a real eye-opener to just how cruel and insensitive people can be.

As Jacksy has suggested I have already started to write everything down just in case I end up having to leave and claiming constructive dismissal.

Anyway, I just wanted to send you another cyber hug and let you know you are not alone. I will be following your story with interest and will keep you up-to-date with things from my end.

I know it’s easy to take it personally but it is nothing to do with us and all about their inability to care about anything otherr than their stupid careers. These people have no place in management and HR and it makes my blood boil to know they get away with it.

Lola x

Hi Lambkin,

I am actually quite glad that your phased return to work has been delayed as I don’t think it would’ve done your recovery any good staying in that awful place for a moment longer! Harsh but true I’m afraid!

I’m really pleased that you’ve been able to take advice from bcc and they have been able to steer you in the right direction. I hope your letter writing proves fruitful!

Take care and please keep us posted,


Dear all,
Having read all you troubles and resolves I wondered if anyone could put me in the right direction.
I lost the best job in a while having been diagnosed 3 days on starting the job, they let me go and I have since been in receipt of Incapacity Benefit not entitled to any other help, due to the fact my husband earns over their threshold! I’ve truly lost my confidence (which if you knew me you’d never believe!), I just feel having stayed strong throughout my treatment, surgery,chemo and radio, that now its done I’m on my own, when I’m now realising this is when I need the help the most! Crazy! I look in the mirror and still don’t see the real me, yet all say how healthy I look! Finding it hard to go to interviews as I am, and then have to explain why I’ve not worked for the last year. Anyone else going/been through this?Feel so angry with it all! Is there anyone I can sound off too? Is there anyone that advise me?
Thanks Ruthyj

Hi Ruthy,

Sorry to hear you are have trouble with work issues. I graduated June this year while going throught my chemo (great timing!). Although I wanted to kave applyin for jobs until all treatment is finished I thought I would apply and go along for the experience of the interveiw, in a way to prove yo myself i can do it… Funnily enough I got offered the job which sounded great, they want e me to start in 4 weeks time, but treatment will not finish til nid Oct.
As i was not honest with them in the first place i had to come up with an excuse, it’s a shame as the job seemed great etc. This is a BIG concern of mine about going back to work. I have heard the Cancerbacup website and helpline offer some great adive about how to tackle all the issues realted to this. I myself have not had a chance to look yey but maybe you will find helpful?

i think is’s or something, google it anyway.

Good luck with everything

N xx