I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the start of the pandemic, having first found the mass in my breast in April 2020. I was the finance lead for a global transformation programme but at the time was not reporting up to Finance. I was a member of the Programme office.
During my initial diagnosis, before the surgery and placement of my port for chemotherapy, there were one or two individuals who didn’t fully understand what I was going through and were more of an obstacle to me than a support. I was a bit shocked and had to explain I could not be taking on additional responsibilities.
The rest of the transformation team and finance community rallied around me. My current line manager, HR and the finance leadership team moved quickly. They moved me back into finance so the team there could back me up and help me cover my role while I was going through treatment. My new line manager was exceptional and very supportive. Other non-finance folks also jumped into help. It was amazing and heart-warming. I was able to take off the time I needed and contribute when I could. I had the comfort of knowing we were fully supporting a successful transformation. I watched the team cross-train and support each other while supporting me. I watched them grow and meet all of our targets. It was fantastic.
The pandemic forced us to isolate. It changed the way we work. I was doing this also while going through my cancer treatment, so it wasn’t just me feeling isolated and cut off from friends and family physically. However, the flexibility to be able to work from home meant I could be productive and safe. It was a gift. The products we sell at BT to help companies work effectively from wherever they are also helped me be productive while I had a compromised immune system during a pandemic, which was amazing.
My line manager and I communicated frequently. I used my calendar to keep everyone informed of doctor appointments (or ever if I needed a nap). The work/life balance at BT and flexibility allowed me to get my work done while adjusting for my new schedule and side effects of my illness.
The support really didn’t change when I moved roles. I still felt fully supported by my team (new and old).