A TOP dog at construction firm Seddon has asked companies to keep in touch with workers on long-term sick leave after being diagnosed with cancer. 

Nicola Hodkinson was told she had breast cancer last February, and has bravely shared her story to help others.

The director of business services was able to keep working reduced hours after her diagnosis because of her understanding colleagues.

The 52-year-old said: “My MD took some of my duties from me and was aware that I needed to be part of the business.

“I needed to work because having a reason to get out of bed that wasn’t a hospital visit really helped me – I liked the normality it brought me.

“I was always really honest with my manager too. If he asked me to do something I would say yes, but not until Thursday because I’ve got my head down in bed or I’m doing treatments.

“Some people can’t work, my friend is a teacher and she couldn’t go back to work because of the infection risk. Some people have to work because of finances, but no one should feel forced to go back to work when they’re not ready to.

Nicola described her situation as “fortunate”, as the private medical insurance available to her through work allowed her to be seen quickly.

She was also able to choose whether she worked throughout her treatment due to her financial position, and has encouraged people to look into income protection or critical illness cover for their wages.

Nicola added: “When I was diagnosed I came back to work after three weeks away and I was really scared to walk through those doors – we have 700 staff and it was scary knowing that they were all aware of the cancer but I knew I had to face them before I lost my hair because it would get much more difficult after that.

“It’s really important that managers are supportive, and they shouldn’t shy away from something or assume – it’s better to ask than assume.

“If you have someone on any long term illness and you’re having any away days or activities or there’s something going on in the business then include them.

“They’re still part of the organisation and should be included – and if they don’t reply or can’t come, don’t think they’re not interested without asking, they might just be having a bad day.”