When Your Work Family is Your Support Away From Home When Facing a Serious Illness – Interview

When Your Work Family is Your Support Away From Home When Facing a Serious Illness – Interview

For many, work is more than a paycheck. The average full-time American employee works over 40 hours a week, so it comes as little surprise that a majority of employees (56%) report spending more time with their “work family” than they do at home. One survey, which sampled 1,000 full-time office workers ages 18-65, found that having a familial relationship with co-workers boosts productivity and feelings of well-being in the workplace.

Another critical element of having a “work family” is they can be a support system if you or someone you love develops a chronic disease, such as cancer. How can co-workers lend the most effective and meaningful support without being intrusive?

Creating an inclusive and positive environment for an employee coping with a serious medical condition is essential to the overall well-being of a workplace, but coworkers and employers need guidance. On December 4th, Kathy Flora and Rebecca Nellis will be available to discuss findings in a recent survey commissioned by Cancer and Careers that explored the experiences of 1,000 US working adults, employed full-time, who work or have worked with someone being treated for a serious condition. They will explain how workplaces can evolve to support and accommodate people juggling work and diagnosis, the importance of fostering a positive and supportive work environment, and the key roles managers and supervisors can play. Some survey highlights include:

  • 88% of working adults have concerns about their ability to support a co-worker with a serious and/or chronic medical condition
  • Of those who currently work/have worked with someone diagnosed with cancer, 90% have concerns about offering support
  • 59% of working adults are not confident that their managers and supervisors know how to support an employee with a serious and/or chronic medical condition
  • 89% of workers think management could have done more to be supportive of their co-worker with a serious and/or chronic medical condition

Listen to the entire interview here:

For more information, go to cancerandcareers.org/coworkers


Rebecca V. Nellis is the Executive Director of Cancer and Careers. Since 2004 she has helped evolve the organization from early concept to national prominence. Rebecca oversees CAC’s programming and fundraising strategies to ensure long-term growth and sustainability. Under her leadership, the organization’s services transform the everyday lives of survivors, while promoting lasting, systemic change for tomorrow’s workplace.

As an expert on cancer-workplace issues, she travels the country presenting at national conferences, leading hospitals and community events about the intersection of life, work and cancer. She has been an invited speaker for the American Public Health Association, the Association of Oncology Social Workers, the National Business Group on Health and 2018’s South by Southwest Conference, among others.

Over the years, Rebecca has launched many of CAC’s breakthrough initiatives, such as the National and Regional Conferences on Work & Cancer, accredited trainings for healthcare professionals and library of Spanish-language resources. As an active member of the cancer community, she has served on numerous committees and working groups, including for Workplace Transitions for People Touched by Cancer and “Women at Work: Multi-Ethnic Comparison of Cancer Survivors with Low-Status Jobs,” at the University of South Florida.

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from New York University and a Master of Public Policy degree from Georgetown University. Her graduate thesis was entitled “Implications of Cancer Survivorship on Financial Assets, Work Productivity and Employment Circumstances.”


Kathy Flora is a nationally certified career counselor, master certified coach, and author who is actively pursuing her life’s passion, helping others find and fulfill theirs. Known as a positive change agent, she has assisted hundreds of individuals understand and capitalize on their strengths while working through life and career transitions.

No stranger to transitions herself, her experience spans over 25 years in executive management and leadership, career development, and consulting in private firms, universities, and federal agencies. She was a three-term elected State Representative in New Hampshire, managed HR programs for the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, and leadership training for the Defense Intelligence Agency before retiring from public service in 2015. Her most recent experience as a caregiver for her mom led her to publish the internationally best-selling memoir, Walking My Momma Home, chronicling their journey through her mom’s dementia. A  joyful cancer survivor of 15 years, Kathy is a long time volunteer for CancerandCareers as a career coach, speaker and webinar facilitator, a role she highly cherishes among all others.

Interview is courtesy: Cancer and Careers


Cynthia Tait

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: