The People Perspective’s Lead HR Consultant, Lacy Bolling, opens up about her recent experience with cancer and why preventative screenings matter.
You have cancer…three words nobody wants to hear, but that’s exactly what the Radiologist told me on May 18, 2023. The biopsy confirmed her words the following day. My life turned upside down in an instant. Shock, fear and anxiety were just a few of the myriad of emotions I felt that day and in the weeks that followed. The “C” word is scary enough but what isn’t talked about is all the time spent waiting and overthinking. Waiting for test results, waiting for clarification, waiting for the next appointment; that period of waiting was the absolute most difficult of my life. Was it Stage I? Stage IV? Or somewhere in between? Was I going to die? The thought of being terminal and leaving my 14-year-old son behind was heart wrenching. I feared what the cancer and surgery would do to my body, whether I would lose my hair and whether I would ever feel normal again. The “what ifs” running through my mind were nonstop and so terrifying.
Thankfully, my cancer was caught early because I was diligent about my annual mammograms. My battle with cancer was relatively short compared to what so many others endure. I went through multiple tests and biopsies. You would think that the results would be clear; however, different doctors had different opinions and I was on information overload so I was unsure how to make the best decision. I decided to do my own research using reputable websites, talk to other survivors and close friends in the medical field and I relied heavily on my instincts. It felt like the right people appeared in my life at exactly the right time when I needed to make an important decision. I attribute that to my faith and I have no regrets about any medical decision I made. At each decision point, I felt peace with the decision.
During my 2-month leave of absence, I had a bilateral mastectomy, a complete hysterectomy and reconstruction surgery. That’s three surgeries within 60 days and it felt like a whirlwind. I was released to return to work on August 31 and thankfully, Kristi, my team and our clients welcomed me with open arms. Through most of the diagnosis, my life had felt like a roller coaster and I held on tight to my faith and leaned heavily on support from my family, friends, manager and coworkers. I’ve no doubt that maintaining a positive mindset got me through the hard days and I was so fortunate to avoid needing chemotherapy and radiation. My prognosis is great; I will take a hormone blocker medication for the next 5 years, along with a lifestyle of vitamins, healthy meals and regular exercise.
While I am doing great, the reality is I am now a statistic. Research shows 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Wow, let that sink in… As a survivor, I’m fully committed to helping other women who will hear the same three horrifying words: you have cancer. At this point, you’re probably wondering why I’m sharing so much personal information. It’s simple: one single mammogram saved my life and now I’m passionate about promoting the importance of preventative screenings of any kind.
Most of us fear bad news so we dread and procrastinate scheduling our preventative screenings. I’ve done that before, but now I want more people to understand the importance of early detection. There are preventative screening ads and reminders everywhere but what if employers also hopped on the bandwagon of encouraging employees to go for their screenings? It would not only be beneficial for employees’ health but for employers and the organization as a whole. Here are just a few positive reasons for employers to promote preventative screenings to employees:
- Improved Employee Health: Preventative care screenings can detect health issues in their early stages, allowing for timely intervention and treatment. This can lead to better health outcomes for employees and reduce the risk of serious illnesses.
- Reduced Healthcare Costs: Early detection and treatment of health conditions are generally less expensive than treating advanced or chronic illnesses. By helping employees address health issues early, employers can potentially lower healthcare costs for the organization.
- Increased Productivity: Healthy employees are more likely to be productive. When employees receive preventative care, they are less likely to miss work due to illness or have reduced productivity because of untreated health issues.
- Lower Absenteeism: Regular screenings can help identify health problems that may otherwise lead to extended sick leave. By addressing health concerns proactively, employers can reduce absenteeism and maintain a productive workforce.
- Enhanced Employee Morale: When employers show genuine concern for their employees’ health and well-being by promoting preventative care, it can boost employee morale and job satisfaction. This can lead to higher retention rates and better employee engagement.
- Promoting a Culture of Well-Being: Encouraging preventative care screenings sends a clear message that the organization values the well-being of its employees. This can foster a culture of health and wellness, where employees are more likely to take proactive steps to maintain their health.
To effectively encourage employees to get preventative care screenings, employers can offer incentives such as wellness programs, health insurance coverage for screenings, flexible scheduling for appointments, and educational materials to raise awareness about the importance of preventative care. Creating a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their health concerns and accessing necessary screenings is essential for the success of such initiatives. How awesome would it be if an employee’s life is saved simply because his or her employer encouraged the preventative screening?! My hope is that employers will be intentional about finding ways to promote and encourage employees to schedule their screenings. Don’t wait until it’s too late…