Search Books:

Join our mailing list:

Recent Articles

The Mystery Murder Case of the Century
by Robert Tanenbaum

by Anna Godbersen

Songs of 1966 That Make Me Wish I Could Sing
by Elizabeth Crook

The Opposite of Loneliness
by Marina Keegan

The Skinny on Back Pain: What Does Work and What Doesn't Work
by Patrick Roth

Remembering Ethel Merman
by Tony Cointreau


The following is an excerpt from the book When It's Cancer
Toni Bernay, Ph.D., and Saar Porrath, M.D.
Published by Rodale; March 2006;$15.95US/$22.95CAN; 1-57954-823-7
Copyright 2006 Toni Bernay, Ph.D.

Disclosure in the Workplace

Opening up to your colleagues about your cancer diagnosis is a more sensitive matter. You may worry that you're no longer a contributing member of the workforce, that you are seen as damaged goods. You may fear, perhaps rightly so, that your news will become a topic of gossip rather than a conduit for strengthening workplace bonds.

Some people will resent being called upon to pick up some of your workload. Others may start vying for your position well before you are ready to quit. Clients, worried that you won't be able to follow through on commitments, may talk about taking their business elsewhere. If you're in a management or executive position, you may worry that the delicate chain of command you've established to protect your own power base will collapse in your absence.

Relationships with co-workers are quite different from those with family and friends. Since you spend most of your waking hours with these people, they may seem like extended family. But.often the workplace is a highly politicized, Machiavellian environment. Until now, you may have chosen to keep your personal life to yourself. You never wanted to show your vulnerability when the guy in the cubicle next to yours or a fellow member of the management team could be after your position. Now things have changed. You will need to build on all the alliances you have established.

Make sure that the people closest to you hear the news directly from you -- or, if that isn't possible, from someone who can speak on your behalf. With bad news, especially, people need to hear it from the right source. As for who should know first, it's customary to start at the top, with your boss. This is just smart office politics. You wouldn't want the person who holds the purse strings to find out secondhand.

Once you've talked with your boss, you can tell your most trusted colleagues, then move on from there. The following pointers should help the process go smoothly.

    As you share the news with your colleagues, ask that they keep it to themselves until you've had a chance to speak with everyone directly.
    If you deal with clients and customers outside the office, decide ahead of time just how much you want them to know.

    Try to tell people over as short a period of time as possible. The rumor mill grinds very quickly, as you probably know.

    Make arrangements to meet your colleagues outside the office -- perhaps after work at a local cafe. Don't expect them to drop what they're doing, listen to what you have to say, and then pick up where they left off.

    If you can't meet after work, plan your conversations for as close to the end of the day as possible. Your news will be emotionally exhausting. That way your colleagues -- and you -- can go home and recover.

Reprinted from: When It's Cancer: The 10 Essential Steps to Follow After Your Diagnosis by Toni Bernay, PhD, and Saar Porrath, MD 2006 Toni Bernay, PhD.  Permission granted by Rodale, Inc., Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling (800) 848-4735 or visit their website at