When a co-worker is diagnosed with blood cancer, it is normal to feel the need to help out any way you can. But it can be difficult to determine the right way to support your co-worker during diagnosis and treatment. It is important for blood cancer patients to have a support system at home consisting of close family members and friends. As a colleague, you can have a positive impact on your co-workers by understanding their needs and offering a network while at work. Just always remember to remain respectful in terms of privacy and communication.

Offer to reduce workload.

Blood cancer patients experience an array of physical and emotional changes as they undergo treatment, including fatigue and anxiety. If your coworker has a particularly busy schedule or workload, offer to reduce their work strain by taking over a small weekly role or task. This can include taking the mail to the post office, organizing files, or relaying meeting minutes.

If your coworker is taking time off for treatment, offer to cover their phones or emails. This simple undertaking will lift a heavy burden off your coworker. When the patient returns to work, they will not have to deal with returning dozens of missed calls, voicemails, and emails.

Asking for work-related help can be a daunting task for a blood cancer patient, so it is always better to offer your coworker help for a specific task. This way your coworker will not feel pressured to come up with a request or feel uncomfortable about asking for help.

Make time.

Many blood cancer patients continue working to maintain a sense of normalcy in their life. But this does not mean it is not difficult at times. Juggling work and family responsibilities, as well as treatment and recovery, can prove challenging and tiring.

Offering a source of encouragement serves to lift their spirits and highlights your genuine concern for their wellness. Taking them out for lunch or going on a walk together gives your coworker an opportunity to talk about their blood cancer diagnosis or other elements of daily life in a stress-free environment. If they do not want to discuss their blood cancer diagnosis, lighten the mood by talking about workplace drama, shared experiences, music, movies or tv shows, or pop culture.

It is important to let your co-worker drive the conversation – do not pressure them into talking about cancer or treatments if they do not want to. Sometimes blood cancer patients need a break from reality to take their mind off their diagnosis or treatment – your time together can serve as that needed distraction.

Promote normalcy.

Following a blood cancer diagnosis, a person’s whole world can change in an instant. It is important to treat your co-worker as you normally would. Remember: your co-worker has not changed even though their situation has changed.

Don’t be afraid to be awkward and uncomfortable. If you have an idea or want to offer work-related support but don’t know if it is the right thing to do – just ask. Start by saying “I don’t know if you need this, but I’d be more than happy to help if so.” This gives your co-worker the chance to accept or decline help without feeling uncomfortable.

If you would like to learn more about how to help a co-worker with blood cancer, or need additional resources, please contact There Goes My Hero at 443-339-4375 or email us at stephanie.cupp@theregoesmyhero.org.