Cancer survivors share experiences with IOSH East Anglia Branch

Former cancer patients shared their experiences of living and working with the disease during a meeting of the East Anglia Branch of the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).

10 March 2015

The physical and psychological impact of a cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatment on patients was explored by the branch at Diss Bowls Club, in Diss, Norfolk, on Friday 6 March.

Committee members Malcolm Fryer and Tudor Smith spoke about their own brushes with cancer.

Specialist occupational physician Dr Moira Kelly also spoke at the meeting and highlighted how flexibility and close communication between cancer patients and their employers can help them to continue in work.

IOSH East Anglia Branch chair Andy Bagworth said: “Many of us know somebody who has had cancer. In many cases, the cancer is treatable and patients can actually continue to live and work through their treatment.

“In Malcolm and Tudor, we have two people on our committee that have gone through cancer and have got back to work. We hope that by them talking so openly about their experiences, people will have a better appreciation of how they can help inform and educate their employers on how they can help anyone diagnosed with cancer continue to work.”

Among those in attendance at the meeting was health and safety advisor Adrian Rudge, who himself was diagnosed with cancer in his neck and tonsils in November 2012.

The 56-year-old IOSH member was off work for nine months while he underwent treatment and recovery, initially returning to work for an hour a week.

A phased return agreed with his employers saw Mr Rudge’s hours increase as his health improved, before he was able to return to full-time work in September 2014.

He said: “It has been a journey but I’ve been well supported all the way through by my family, friends, colleagues and the company.”

An estimated 109,000 people aged between 15 and 64 are diagnosed with cancer in the UK annually, while more than two million people are currently living with cancer.

Those who attended the meeting were also given further information about IOSH’s No Time to Lose campaign, which is seeking to cast a spotlight on occupational cancers.

Around 8,000 people die from cancer and roughly 14,000 contract the disease each year in the UK because of exposure to a work-related carcinogen, such as diesel exhaust fumes, silica dust or asbestos fibres.

Through No Time to Lose, IOSH is offering businesses and other organisations help in taking preventative action.

Mr Bagworth said: “The results of exposure to a carcinogen at work are often latent, meaning people can potentially be putting themselves into a situation where they could be at risk and are not realising it.”

Contact Tim Walsh, IOSH Media Manager

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