Changing the conversation about work and cancer

Sharing my experience with breast cancer

by Gail Kenny

A bittersweet moment happened on the 9th of January 2020 when we celebrated our travel recruitment agency’s 15th birthday, as I was also diagnosed the next morning with Breast Cancer ER/PR negative, HER2+++.  

It was a long, lonely year ahead as I had to go unaccompanied through chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy, because the Covid pandemic has struck.   There were a few other hoops to go through i.e., osteoporosis, cardiac dysfunctions, infections, gastro problems, lymph node cording etc.

I have always believed that we cannot control everything in life, but we can control how we respond to it.  Everybody’s choice as to how to respond is of course different.  I chose to react positively and to treat this disease as merely as an illness, one day at a time, and be kind to myself.  

I was very fortunate to have an amazing support system of people i.e., doctors, family, friends, neighbours, work colleagues and travel industry colleagues, who provided emotional support, offered practical help, and just were there when I needed to talk.   This made a big difference to my cancer journey.   

My fear of the cancer returning never really goes away, especially when I am constantly reminded of it through the visible effects of surgery.   My approach to balancing this is to engage in activities that make me happy and provide me with a sense of purpose and fulfilment.   

This is why I approached the founder of Working With Cancer to see if I could contribute and make a positive impact on others who are going through similar challenges.  Having advised executives on building their profile for over 20 years, I now use my expertise to help others working with cancer to navigate their career, whilst they are also dealing with the physical and emotional effects of cancer.   

Having a strong network of connections within the travel industry, I am also able, as an Ambassador, to promote the amazing work that Working With Cancer does i.e., taking part in the global campaign which encourages organisations to make a pledge to support employees #workingwithcancer.   This is hugely successful and rewarding.  It is such a wonderful way to channel my energy and skills, and I cannot thank Barbara and the team at Working With Cancer enough for giving me this opportunity.