A top Facebook executive opened up about working and living with incurable cancer

LinkedinNicola Mendelsohn
  • Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s most senior executive outside of the US, has described working and living with incurable blood cancer.
  • Mendelsohn has changed her routine, cutting travel and changing flight times. She has also cut back on her responsibilities outside of Facebook.
  • She has changed her diet and is walking more to counteract the effects of chemotherapy.

Facebook’s most senior executive outside of the US has opened up about working and living with an incurable blood cancer, which she was diagnosed with in November 2016.

In an interview with London newspaper The Evening Standard, Nicola Mendelsohn described how she has changed her professional routine, cut back on her work beyond Facebook, and the impact her disease is having on her family.

Mendelsohn, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, was diagnosed with a slow-growing follicular lymphoma more than 18 months ago and she is juggling her career with chemo and immunotherapy treatment.

“I am doing OK. It’s not easy. But I am focusing on getting better,” she said, revealing that her condition has deteriorated over the past month. “It’s very different to a month ago to how I am today because I am not physically strong enough to do the things I was doing, and I’m OK with that.”

Mendelsohn said she was “lucky” to work at a company that understands her condition. She has switched up her routine to manage the cancer, including ditching early morning flights and focusing more on London.

“I had stopped doing very early morning flights and went the night before. Given the kids were all older and technology is amazing, I could keep in touch in different ways,” she said.

Mendelsohn has also stepped down from the British government’s Creative Industries Council, which she has chaired for the past six months, and her role as a judge on the Women’s Prize for Fiction.

As well as adapting her work routine, the Facebook executive has changed her diet, cutting out sugar, and is exercising to help counteract the effects of chemotherapy.

“I make sure I walk every day. That’s really important when you’re having chemo. Not power walking, just gentle walking. Just half an hour,” she said.

Earlier this year, when Mendelsohn went public with her diagnosis, she said telling her children was the hardest moment of her life. She said they have been “really supportive” and even make her the “occasional cup of tea.”

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