Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

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Palatineman
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Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by Palatineman » Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:40 pm

My manager with whom I have a fantastic professional relationship with, announced today in our team meeting that he has been diagnosed with Cancer, but will continue to perform his job duties, obviously in a more limited capacity.

His initial treatment starts tomorrow and more likely he will be taking time off as needed, but at least one day a week for the foreseeable future. He insists that he enjoys work and is a much needed distraction from the health issues and his doctor has recommended that he continue working while receiving treatment.

Our team members all offered our sympathies and anyway we as a team can help. I have been with the team the longest and immediately offered to help be a backup and delegate anything he needs to ensure any tasks/deliverable's are met.

-He has been my manager for the past 9 years at the same company
-I do not have a personal relationship with him or his family
-We both trust each other and he has been very supportive when I have had health issues in the past

I am looking for and would appreciate some guidance from experienced Bogleheads that may have encountered this situation before?

The only immediate steps I can think of is to step up where needed and make sure our team does not continually offer sympathy, which may remind him of the personal struggle he has to deal with on a daily basis. I do plan on sending him a card to let him know I am here to help in any capacity he needs.

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dm200
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by dm200 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:55 pm

Palatineman wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:40 pm
My manager with whom I have a fantastic professional relationship with, announced today in our team meeting that he has been diagnosed with Cancer, but will continue to perform his job duties, obviously in a more limited capacity.
His initial treatment starts tomorrow and more likely he will be taking time off as needed, but at least one day a week for the foreseeable future. He insists that he enjoys work and is a much needed distraction from the health issues and his doctor has recommended that he continue working while receiving treatment.
Our team members all offered our sympathies and anyway we as a team can help. I have been with the team the longest and immediately offered to help be a backup and delegate anything he needs to ensure any tasks/deliverable's are met.
-He has been my manager for the past 9 years at the same company
-I do not have a personal relationship with him or his family
-We both trust each other and he has been very supportive when I have had health issues in the past
I am looking for and would appreciate some guidance from experienced Bogleheads that may have encountered this situation before?
The only immediate steps I can think of is to step up where needed and make sure our team does not continually offer sympathy, which may remind him of the personal struggle he has to deal with on a daily basis. I do plan on sending him a card to let him know I am here to help in any capacity he needs.
Over the years, I have often been amazed at how some folks can continue to work and be productive while undergoing treatment. Prepare to be flexible.

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celia
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by celia » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:06 pm

Don't ask him personal questions about his health. If he feels like telling you anything, then listen, but keep it to yourself. His medical needs should be kept private, as that is his right.

You might try to be aware of him not feeling well (listless, sleepy, etc) while trying to keep working. He may (or may not) need to be reminded to go/stay home if he is feeling sub par. And he may need someone to drive him home, if this occurs.

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dm200
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by dm200 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:08 pm

celia wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:06 pm
Don't ask him personal questions about his health. If he feels like telling you anything, then listen, but keep it to yourself. His medical needs should be kept private, as that is his right.

You might try to be aware of him not feeling well (listless, sleepy, etc) while trying to keep working. He may (or may not) need to be reminded to go/stay home if he is feeling sub par. And he may need someone to drive him home, if this occurs.
Yes - and try to avoid any and all folks giving "advice" about (sometimes wacky) alternative "cures".

Today, as well, some such cancer is (or can be) very "curable" while some types have a less positive outcome.

retiredjg
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by retiredjg » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:10 pm

Palatineman wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:40 pm
-We both trust each other and he has been very supportive when I have had health issues in the past
He already knows he can trust you so you don't need to do anything out of the ordinary. Just continue being trustworthy and helpful.

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Taylor Larimore
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by Taylor Larimore » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:17 pm

Bogleheads:

In 2004 I had my first cancer diagnosis: throat cancer. I told the surgeon that if I could not speak to let me die on the operation table. The surgeon did not obey. I underwent a laryngectomy operation and can no long speak without my electronic "buzzer." Since then I have been diagnosed with four more cancers: prostate, melanoma skin, hip-bone and bladder.

Guess what? Until a few months ago I was sailboat racing nearly every Saturday. I am 94 years old and most of the time I feel
as good as ever. Thank you Doctor Arnold!

Lesson learned: The fear of cancer can be worse than the cancer itself. Cancer treatments have advanced rapidly.

Best wishes.
Taylor
Last edited by Taylor Larimore on Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dottie57
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by Dottie57 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:19 pm

When I was working one of my co-workers was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He too continued to work.

Most important is to not avoid him. Treat him the same. Quite a few in my work unit avoided co-worker. Open seating allowed people to easily not talk to him. Asking about family and activities led to discussion of his treatments. The talk was very matter of fact.

I never met his family. But I know a lot about them. He is still around, but he took the same early retirement package that I did.

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dm200
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by dm200 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:22 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:17 pm
Bogleheads:

In 2004 I had my first cancer diagnosis: throat cancer. I told the surgeon that if I could not speak to let me die on the operation table. The surgeon did not obey. I underwent a laryngectomy operation and can no long speak without my electronic "buzzer." Since then I have been diagnosed with four more cancers: prostate, melanoma skin, hip-bone and bladder.

Guess what? Until a few months ago I was sailboat racing nearly every Saturday. I am 94 years old and most of the time I feel
as good as ever. Thank you Doctor Arnold!


Lesson learned: The fear of cancer can be worse than the cancer itself.

Best wishes.
Taylor
\
Good news..

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whodidntante
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by whodidntante » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:37 pm

Treat him like a person. Not a person with cancer. Be willing to talk, but not hungry to talk. Otherwise, work is not much of an escape from him disease.

prairieman
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by prairieman » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:41 pm

As a long term cancer survivor myself I found that I did not mind being asked about it, but relatively few people ever said anything at all. Other people I’ve known with cancer did not care to share anything, but I was an open book. When employees I managed asked how things were going, I told them because I felt they deserved to know. Usually, I took it as a sign that they cared about me as a person. Those who never asked anything were the ones I did not feel that close to anyway, but it would have been OK. It was certainly a big event in my life, weighing heavy on my mind at times.
So, I think it really depends on the person who has the cancer (you can ask if he or she would prefer not to talk about it) and your relationship with him/her (don’t say anything at all if it makes you uncomfortable).

livesoft
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by livesoft » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:45 pm

While neither I nor close family members have been diagnosed with cancer, I know many people who have told me or my spouse about their diagnoses. It seems like at first it is an intensely private affair and no one wants to bother anyone with any of their troubles. I don't think there is really a play book about all this.

But I am forthright about everything, so I always ask someone after the reveal how they want me to treat them. A frank discussion always ensues and I abide by their wishes. Some want to be treated normally with no changes. None of them want to be treated as fragile in the beginning. Some want confidentiality; some don't.

So instead of asking us, go out to lunch and have a conversation.
Last edited by livesoft on Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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bpp
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by bpp » Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:47 pm

Dottie57 wrote:
Tue Sep 18, 2018 5:19 pm
Most important is to not avoid him. Treat him the same.
This times a million. One of the last things he will probably want is to feel like he is being treated like he is already dead. Be available if he needs some help with some of his load at times, but don’t write him off. He may crave normalcy more than anything else.

Yellowjacket1
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by Yellowjacket1 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:20 pm

Am currently recovering from Acute myeloid Leukemia (AML). If you and your co-workers really want to help your manager, here are some ideas:

Offer to drive him to/from his treatments, even once every month would give his caretaker a break.

Offer to take care of any pets as needed.

Offer to pick up kids from school, or take them to/from their activities.

Provide him with gas, restaurant gift cards.

Offer to cut his grass or help with any other handyman needs around his house. Change the oil in his cars, winterize the house, etc.

Take him/his family A meal once a week.

He may be too prideful to ask for help. However, when you offer specific ideas for help he may be more likely to accept. I don’t know how we would have gotten through this without our friends who didn’t just offer help, but stepped in and saw what we needed and filled in.

cody69
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by cody69 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:27 pm

Treat him like a person. Not a person with cancer.
+100

Having experience with this, your manager is brave to have opened up to you and others. No one wants to be tagged as "that person who has cancer". If they want to talk about it, they will bring it up... don't belabor the point.
Since then I have been diagnosed with four more cancers: prostate, melanoma skin, hip-bone and bladder.
Taylor, thanks for sharing -- I didn't know. You are role model in so many ways!

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FreeAtLast
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by FreeAtLast » Tue Sep 18, 2018 6:35 pm

Oh boy, OP, you really awakened a memory in me that I had not thought about for a long time.

Years ago, when I was in the middle of my career, I visited a female colleague in her office to discuss some managerial issues that she and I were working on together. In the middle of our talk, she got up, shut the door, sat back down and announced she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Why did she confide in me? Without going into a long story, she was well aware of my strong science background, which included significant medical knowledge. From past experiences, she also knew that I could maintain confidentiality. As she described her situation, what had led up to the diagnosis, and did some totally understandable emotional venting, I sat there with my brain wheels spinning at about 1000 rpm. How could I help Kay (a pseudonym) the best in her time of need?
Kay and I lived about 60 miles apart. I wouldn't be able to get her groceries or run other important errands for her when she might be incapable of doing those chores. Would the only help I could provide to her be the usual formulaic platitudes? Not acceptable to me. Fortunately, the light bulb eventually lit up in my skull. I told her that I would always be there to interpret whatever medical terms and procedures and treatments that she found potentially confusing. Also, I was going to immediately study the medical journals that I could access concerning the latest and best treatments for breast cancer. Finally, I gave her my personal cell phone number and told her she could call me at any time, even if it was 3:00 AM and even if it was because she was anxious and just wanted to talk.
So, what's the point of this little tale? You offer the afflicted person whatever assistance that you know you can and will reliably provide. You let them know without any doubt that if they need your help someday, that they can depend on you. You erect a pillar of support right then and there that they will believe in.
Kay retired before I did and we met about 4 years later. She was doing part-time consultant work, was very happy and looked great. We did not talk about that day in her office nor did we talk about her current health status. However, I had already been told by some of her close friends that she had never forgotten what I had said that day and how important it was to her at the time.
I am not trying to make myself look like some sort of a hero here. A goodly number of my co-workers would not have believed for a minute that I could convey that sort of empathy. All I did was to offer what little help I absolutely knew I could provide and made sure she believed it. So, that's my advice to you, FWIW.
Illegitimi non carborundum.

J295
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Re: Manager - Cancer Diagnosis

Post by J295 » Tue Sep 18, 2018 8:20 pm

Have your emotional intelligence antenna up and continue to be a good work friend. I’m sure you’ll act wonderfully. I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all in terms of how to be a good work friend.

My advice is based on my volunteer experience making weekly home visits to terminal cancer patients.

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