Cancer can cause uncertainty in the workplace, both for the employee and the employer. Employees will certainly need to have time off work throughout their cancer diagnosis and treatment, but how much?

There's no hard and fast rule and it's very much down to the individual and how they feel. Some people stop working altogether until they feel ready to go back. Others carry on working, perhaps with reduced hours or changes to their role. Some may decide not to go back, or can't because of the way cancer has affected their health. But if working has been an important part of your life, it can be hard to give it up. For Kate Monserrate, work was a focus, and having cancer only made her even more determined to succeed.

Kate is a Director of Simplify Consulting, a Dorset-based consultancy offering solutions in strategic planning, risk management, change and project management. As an experienced consultant specialising in programme management, Kate has poured her energies into founding and growing this now thriving consultancy with co-founder, Carl Woodward, which has an impressive portfolio of clients including HSBC, Legal & General and Investec.

In 2018, Kate was diagnosed with breast cancer. 

She says:

I made the decision that I didn't want to give cancer the time of day, so carried on my life as much as I could. I haven't even told my daughter. That was a personal choice, but I didn't want to burden her with it. It wasn't going to stop me doing anything, so I carried on working and running a consultancy with my business partner, Carl, as much as I could. Without his support, I wouldn't have been able to cope. He's been amazing throughout, as have my family and close friends. 

Cancer hasn't really made me change my view of my job, my business or my life, but I'm so grateful for the treatment I've received and certainly would consider myself lucky. I also sought help from Wessex Cancer Trust, a charity which gives free and local emotional support to anyone living with cancer in Hampshire, Dorset and Isle of Wight. 

Carl and I have continued to grow our business, despite cancer. It's thanks to our values of tenacity, determination, integrity and always supporting each other which makes a difference - cancer or no cancer.

Kate says that her determined attitude really helped her to stay positive throughout her cancer diagnosis and treatment, and set up a website called Smashing It which she hopes will now help others. 

Cancer is a horrendous disease which can take over everything. I was determined not to let it. Everyone has different treatments, side effects, responses and feelings, but the mindset you adopt can really make a difference, and carrying on as normal as possible help me to stay focused. I found a number of practical hints and tips that really helped make my treatment and recovery more bearable, and wanted to share these through my website in the hope it would help others.

Simplify Consulting is supporting Wessex Cancer Trust as its charity of the year and is aiming to raise £20,000 this year. 

In this blog, James Tracey, Senior Human Resources Manager at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust talks about supporting employees who have cancer. https://www.nhsemployers.org/blog/2018/09/supporting-employees-with-cancer