Leading the Way

Unum’s Jeff Chase isn’t letting cancer get him down

As a senior benefits tax accountant for Unum, Jeff Chase meticulously processes a lot of data. So, it’s no surprise he reacted the way he did upon learning he had cancer while he was at lunch with a friend.

“I hung up the phone, finished my lunch and then went back to work,” he said. “I didn’t immediately tell anyone, not even my wife, because I felt like I had to process the information and be ok with it before I let others know.”

Jeff did tell his wife that evening, and he told his director the following day because he wanted to make sure his work would be taken care of. Next, he started making plans for this new path in life he suddenly found himself on.

“I made one phone call and signed two pieces of paper to sign up for FMLA and to get my short term disability benefits prepared, but I didn’t leave work at this time,” Jeff explained, even though he’d started a 6-week, 5 days per week chemotherapy and radiation treatment schedule. “For the first four weeks, I’d come back to work after each treatment, but the last two weeks really took a toll on me, so I went home after each treatment.”

Jeff says he’s so thankful for the support he’s received from his colleagues. They helped him with spring cleaning projects around his home and they are planning to come back in the fall. When he doesn’t feel well, they cover for him. When he feels good enough to work, he comes into the office or works from home. And through it all, he’s remained upbeat.

“People always ask how I stay positive, and the answer is really pretty simple,” he said. “I’m choosing to remain optimistic because it makes a difference in how I feel. Being angry and feeling depressed isn’t going to cure my cancer. I also want to be productive, because it helps me feel better and gets me through some tough days. So many people let this illness consume them and it doesn’t need to.”

When we hear from other customers on the receiving end of Unum’s benefits, the peace of mind they provide is often discussed. Jeff echoed that sentiment.

“You never really know how good our benefits are until you need them, including our health care coverage,” Jeff said. “I’ve been fortunate to receive top-notch in-network cancer treatment from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Center.

“After surgery, I went out on short term disability leave and I don’t know what I would have done without this coverage. It helped me pay the bills, send my kids to school and ease my worries about how my family was going to survive financially,” he said.

September 19 is Jeff’s last day of chemo and he’s confident his new scans will show he’s cancer free. If it doesn’t, then he’ll deal with it, along with help from his team.

“You don’t realize how much you need your normal routine until it’s missing,” he said. “To be as normal as possible, and the fact that the company and my colleagues are supportive of me, has been nothing short of amazing.”

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