11 November 2022
Participant spotlight: MinterEllison raises the bar on employee wellbeing and support
For 36-year-old mother of two, Natasha Lammas, a diagnosis of breast cancer came out of nowhere and shattered her world. With no family history of the disease and being in a low-risk age bracket, the concept of not being around for her children, both under the age of six years at the time, was a complete shock.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in October, which is ironically breast cancer awareness month but I’d never dreamed of anything like this impacting me so directly,” said Ms Lammas.
“I remember being in total shock. It was all a bit of a whirlwind, with no signs or symptoms and only 12 days between diagnosis and surgery so it took a while to hit home.
“I didn’t have much time to process what I was about to undergo. I was scared because there was so much uncertainty, not just for me but also for my family,” she said.
The statistics are alarming but all-too familiar: breast cancer claims a life every 74 seconds[i] somewhere in the world.
“Being in a lower-risk category didn’t change the fact I had breast cancer. I didn’t know what my life would look like afterwards,” Ms Lammas said.
Ms Lammas said she was off work for almost a year for treatment and recovery during which time her employer, MinterEllison, reached out. They offered her the Osara Health Coach program and app to give her 24/7 access to cancer resources, nutrition and exercise advice, a specialist health coach and a community of other cancer patients.
My Osara Health coach was incredibly supportive and gave me the resources I needed without it being overwhelming. I was able to rebuild my confidence and my state of mind,” she said.
As a long-time employee of MinterEllison, Natasha felt she had the support she needed following treatment and recovery time to commence a return to work approach in collaboration with her employer. “The program helped me plan my return to work as a collaborative process which became really important to me because it gave me a sense I was in control of my life again
“We started with one day a week and then progressed until I felt the balance was right to return and readjust back into the working environment.”
Natasha finds she still regularly refers back to the resources provided during this program such as information shared on exercise, nutrition and mental health. “After going through chemotherapy, I knew that to remain mentally strong I needed to incorporate exercise and the program allowed me to understand the benefits of this.”
MinterEllison CEO and managing partner, Virginia Briggs, said it was important employers understood how to value their employees on many levels if they were to build cultures of trust, respect and loyalty.
It’s in our DNA to support our employees through the many challenges that life presents and that extends to understanding impacts on their colleagues and families during difficult times,” said Ms Briggs.
“It has been fantastic to see our MinterEllison community come together to help and guide each other when there’s a challenge like this and we’re proud that we can offer a program like Osara to help our employees reconnect with their colleagues and not be defined by the disease.
Ms Briggs said MinterEllison had been in partnership with Osara Health for 12 months to offer employees confidential access to cancer support programs.
Established in 2015 by a team of oncologists led by CEO Dr Raghav Murali-Ganesh, Osara Health Coach is a digital companion platform that comprises an education and coaching program covering key areas of cancer self-management, recovery and return-to-work planning.
“Cancer can be very isolating so it’s important to offer patients a mechanism to maintain connections with employers, colleagues, family and friends during treatment – to keep a sense of normalcy and feel like they’re in the driver’s seat,” said Dr Murali-Ganesh. “Traditionally there wasn’t a coordinated approach to helping employees, employers and families understand a cancer diagnosis and map a way forward together, so we developed Osara Health to address that gap.”
[i] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33655849/ Noor F et al 2021. Recent advances in diagnostic and therapeutic approaches for breast cancer: a comprehensive review.
[iii] Lo J, Ballurkar K, Fox S, Tynan K, Luu N, Boyer M, Murali-Ganesh R. A Digital Coaching Intervention for Cancer Survivors With Job Loss: Retrospective Study. JMIR Cancer. 2021 Nov 23;7(4):e31966. doi: 10.2196/31966. PMID: 34710853; PMCID: PMC8663674.