“We don’t want to be at hospital”: Surveyor with cancer calls for flexibility at work

Jeannie Ambrose was given three to five years to live in 2019, but she continued working and studying, and has only recently retired (Courtesy of Jeannie Ambrose)
A building control surveyor who was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in 2019 but kept working is calling on employers to be flexible with staff battling cancer and other long-term illnesses.

“I think it’s very easy when you hear the words ‘stage 4 cancer’ that you automatically visualise a cancer patient who’s very, very ill and perhaps can’t function very well, whereas actually many of us are functioning really well,” Jeannie Ambrose tells CIOB People editor Nadine Buddoo in the latest episode of the 21CC podcast to mark October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

You can listen to the podcast here:

When she was diagnosed, doctors estimated she had between three and five years to live.

But Ambrose continued working at East Cambridgeshire District Council in the UK, a role she says she loved, taking medical retirement reluctantly only this year.

In that time, on top of her day job, she also completed the Chartered Institute of Building’s Professional Development Programme.

“Many of us are actually living longer than the three-to-five years. We have advances in medication all the time,” Ambrose said.

“It’s just about making sure you give that employee flexibility so you don’t have that extra pressure when you’ve got a hospital appointment. We don’t want to be at hospital, we want to be at work and to carry on as normal.”

You can listen to Ambrose’s inspiring story above, download the whole episode here, or find it on all main podcast platforms.

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