Emma recognised for work supporting police colleagues through cancer

Emma Arthurs-Newman was a response police officer in 2017, when she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer

Emma Arthurs-Newman was a response police officer in 2017, when she was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer - Credit: Emma Arthurs-Newman, Archant, Getty/iStockphoto

A woman who fought cancer and is now helping colleagues going through their own diagnosis has urged others not to feel isolated. 

Emma Arthurs-Newman, 44, was working as a response police officer when she discovered a lump in her breast in 2017.  

“My outlook on life has changed,” says Emma. “If you’re going through an experience, you want to speak to other people. If you fell pregnant, the first thing you’d want is to talk to someone else who’s been pregnant.” 

However, while there are many who will happily share news of their newborn babies, Emma found there are far fewer who are willing to speak about their cancer diagnoses. 

Emma Arthurs-Newman

Emma Arthurs-Newman - Credit: Emma Arthurs-Newman

“Nobody thinks it will ever happen to them,” says Emma. “I think for some people, having cancer is very private. So, I would say, I’ve been diagnosed, and someone else would say, oh, I had it four years ago, and I’d be really taken aback. 

“It was such a positive experience to see a person stood in front of me who’d had cancer and was still here.” 

This experience brought home to Emma how important it is to have support at such a difficult and frightening time, particularly in the workplace.  

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She went through 14 months of treatment at Colchester Hospital, starting with chemotherapy, then multiple surgeries and radiotherapy. During this time, her hair fell out, her weight fluctuated and she had a mastectomy. 

“It was invasive treatment,” she says. “But through all of it, I kept coming back to work, because it was the only thing in my life that I could control. I thought, my work is my constant, that’s where my friends are and they’ll treat me the same. 

“That’s why I wanted to offer that support to other people. I don’t think anybody in any employment would realise that work is probably a saving grace. If you work in the right environment, having those people around you is really important." 

Emma is now the equality lead and a Federation representative for Suffolk Police.

She is also the force’s cancer single point of contact, supporting colleagues who have been diagnosed with cancer and helping to break the silence around the disease. 

Emma was recently named employee of the month in recognition of the invaluable support she offers colleagues. 

“I don’t want people to feel isolated,” she explains, “In my journey, I’ve helped about six people directly, and I don’t know how many other people they’ve helped as a result of me helping them. It could have a knock-on effect.”