We sat down with Denise Coates to talk about her experience with cancer and her incredible fundraising achievements to support others in similar positions.

Tell us who you are and what you do

My name is Denise Coates and I’m a Business Development Executive for BT Final Mile. My primary role is to source New Business for our Sales Team. I research companies and source the decision makers for an introduction. This is mainly by telephone and email with the support of our marketing collateral. I’m fortunate to work with some great people and our goals are all ‘team orientated’.

Tell us about your experience with cancer

On the 18 December, 2015 – I was told that there was an 80% chance that I had breast cancer, then a week later on 24/12/2015, it was confirmed. My treatment followed that and my first operation was on World Cancer Day, 4/2/2016, where I had cancer removed from my left breast and re-shaped. I had a further two operations, 21 days of radiotherapy and since then I have taken Tamoxifen. 

You've raised a huge amount of money for cancer charities, tell us a little more about that (How does BT support your volunteering?)

During my treatment I saw humility and kindness beyond measure, which compelled me to give back. So, I became a Cancer Research UK Media Volunteer and a voluntary fundraiser for our local NHS Hospital Breast Cancer Unit. I also fundraise for an International Forum for the Association of Breast Surgery and work with my Surgeon on that, supporting women in Sub Saharan Africa.

As I approach my 5th cancer free anniversary I’m pleased to say that I have written a book for charity – It’s called Conquering Cancer Together. It’s mainly about HOPE & AWARENESS.

Working at BT has enabled me to talk about my cancer and also I get charity days off, this has been such a big relief and so helpful to me… it really has! 

Do you have any advice for those who are diagnosed with cancer whilst working a full time role?

Be honest with your employer and seek the support and advice you can. Many leading Charities provide information about work rights and other type of help.

You are not alone… there’s lots of support out there. 

More colleague stories