Horrible Boss

I’ve been left feeling low today after a conversation with my boss. I am currently have weekly chemotherapy and was forced to take a break after the fourth treatment due to peripheral neuropathy in my feet. I would usually have treatment on a Tuesday, which meant I felt pretty rough over the weekend, when I was off. However, my treatment has now been rescheduled for a Friday, meaning I will be feeling at my worst mid-week. When I explained this to my boss, she asked me to ask the hospital if I could revert back to a Tuesday so that I wouldn’t have to take any time off work. Whilst I appreciate I am the only person in the office, I can’t help feeling utterly defeated by her attitude. I’ve had 2 lumpectomies so far and only took a minimum amount of time off work; only 2 days following the 2nd op. I still have to make a decision whether to have a further lumpectomy (as they haven’t got clear margins) or a mastectomy, but I can’t help thinking she isn’t going to support me if I need 4-6 weeks off work, so my decision is clearly going to be influenced by her attitude. She keeps making stupid, ill-informed, hurtful comments like how lucky I am to have breast cancer because it’s easy to treat, and again I’m lucky it’s breast cancer because it doesn’t spread, and the best of all, how nobody dies from breast cancer (my aunt did). My husband has told me to quit and find a new job after my treatment is over, but working keeps me going and I don’t want to give it up, but she’s making an already challenging situation even more difficult.  Sorry to rant, just feeling crap today!  

Im horrified by the way your boss is behaving - please don’t let her attitude stop you from making your health a priorty- under no circumstances have a lesser op just to appease her .Is it a very small firm - is there someone above her you can go to - can you negotiate part-time working or working from home during chemo ? I’m with your husband I’d be tempted to escape from such an unreasonable working environment look after my health and look for something else when treatment is over .

Well Dawn, all I can say is I am astounded by your sticking power. Chemo flattened me and even the weekly paclitaxel, which I was told was easier to tolerate, was a minefield. Plus the emotional turmoil of diagnosis/surgery and the uncertainty around the decisions still to be made. How can she say bc doesn’t spread when your consultant is presenting you with these options!! Are you having radiotherapy after? Some people are flattened by fatigue. I can understand your wish to keep working as a focus and diversion but I have no idea how you manage it - and in such miserable circumstances too. I take my beanie off to you.


It looks like you don’t have anything to fall back on as she’s cleverly got you to be self-employed but it might be worth asking your CAB to see if she is in breach of any employment legislation. In normal circumstances you would be entitled to as much sick leave as you require to recover (full pay, then half pay) but these aren’t normal circumstances. If you feel you can’t cope (and I know for certain I could never have worked through chemotherapy) could you suggest she creates a temporary appointment, replacing you for x months? Then your job is still there but the organisation is unaffected by your absence. However, I don’t think I’d be inclined to feel any loyalty to a ‘boss’ who is so openly unsupportive and critical. Get up at the next comment, walk out that door and don’t ever tell her the passwords! Let’s hope she never has the misfortune…


Good luck with the rest of your treatment. Time for a rest, Dawn.


Jan x

Hi DawnRoss

I am sorry to read this has been your experience in your current role.

If you ever felt like chatting about your diagnosis to someone who understands, you can reach our team on freephone 0808 800 6000 (Mon-Fri, 9am-4pm; Sat, 9am-1pm) - we’ll always be happy to chat.

Regarding your challenges at work, did you know that Macmillan Cancer Support have a work support team on their helpline? You can call them on freephone 0808 808 00 00 (every day, 8am-8pm). You can find more information about what they can help with here: www.macmillan.org.uk/information-and-support/organising/work-and-cancer/information-for-employees/your-rights.html.

Sending you all our love


Hi Dawn

thanks for sharing your story. How could people be so insensitive? “You’re lucky to have breast cancer?!?!?!” I would have probably lost it and punched my boss on the face having been told that! ???

When I was diagnosed with my breast

cancer I thought my hostile work environment played a part in it. I was feeling depressed coming to work and not getting fulfilled with what I used to passionately love doing. I know it’s a myth to say that stress causes breast cancer. But I’m sure it indirectly contributed. 

I decided to be my own boss and started my own business from scratch. I haven’t looked back. I have made the brave choice to change myself and my beliefs and enjoy time and financial freedom with my loved ones.

All the best with your treatment.

Lots of hugs to you