International Women's Day 2020: Natalie's story

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In 2008, my whole world changed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I had to undergo radiotherapy, chemotherapy and a mastectomy on my left side.

The partners at Moore couldn’t have been more supportive. 

Following radiotherapy the movement in my arm became limited which resulted in lots of physiotherapy, but the firm let me work flexibly around my appointments and not having to worry about work made a big difference.

Thankfully, the treatment was successful, and I returned to my previous role and hours.

Then, in May 2011, my marriage broke down.  Suddenly, I was a single parent, and I found it very difficult to cope. I really struggled with my mental health, but again, the partners at Moore were incredibly supportive.

Two months later, I was diagnosed with primary breast cancer on the other side. More chemo and another mastectomy followed.  Yet again, the support I received from the team at Moore was incredible. 

Moore took me on full time as Secretarial Team Leader for the Peterborough office in 2012. Their faith in me, after all I’d been through, helped me to start to believe in myself again.

For the past twelve years I’ve been doing regular ‘buddying’ for women with breast cancer (or the Pink Ladies as we’re known). When you’re going through something like that, it’s often easier to talk to someone that you don’t have a close emotional connection with, someone who’s been through the same thing and who understands the impact it can have on your relationship, on your career and on your children. 

Having a support network is incredibly important. When we get together there’s always a lot of laughter (and showing each other our boobs), but it’s so important to show people, particularly younger people who have been diagnosed, that there is life after cancer.

I’m also an advocate for body image for women who’ve had breast cancer surgery and have been featured in Women & Home magazine as well as in leaflets for national breast cancer charities.

I’m so grateful for the support that I got from Moore when I was struggling.  Having a supportive employer really makes a huge difficult when you’re struggling with illness or mental health issues.  I don’t think they’ve ever realised just how much that meant to me, and I’ve been determined to give others the same support.

Coming back to work after my illness, I worked closely with the partners to put wellbeing top of the agenda.  We introduced new policies and procedures for staff to make sure everyone has access to flexible working, introduced new coaching and mentoring programmes, launched an anti-bullying scheme, and paid for external counselling for people when needed.

In 2016 I completed a formal HR qualification, and in 2017 was promoted to Director of Resources for the East Midlands. This is the first time the practice has had a dedicated resource looking after the wellbeing of our people.

For me, the mental health issues I experienced were actually harder to deal with than the physical ones and I think it’s so important that we support anyone struggling with their mental health.  I’ve recently become a qualified mental health first aider and I’m going to be rolling out mental health training for all people managers in the near future.