Just over six years ago, Denise Colella was having one of the best years of her life.

Married, with two young children, she had run five marathons and had a great career at NBCUniversal running advanced advertising and data strategy.

Then at 44 years old, on her birthday, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It was a scary time, but thankfully Colella received a boundless amount of support from NBCU and then her employer Adobe. “The support was fantastic, from NBCU, my co-workers, from friends in the industry and vendors, like Adobe, at the time. Post-surgery, they would send me care baskets and check in on me,” she told Beet.TV. “It was such a humbling reminder of the generosity of people and the industry.”

Beet.TV was on hand for the second annual Women in Media & Marketing Awards Luncheon benefiting Breastcancer.org and spoke with Colella, who was presented with the Corporate Visionary Award for her work supporting others with breast cancer through education and fundraising.

Held at JPMorgan Chase Headquarters in New York on Wednesday, May 2, WIMM recognized the contributions of some of the most dynamic women in the media and marketing industry.

“We do so much for maternity, paternity leave, family leave. And yet I’m not sure that we as a society have our plans done for breast cancer,” Colella said. “We need to have that mechanism for people to accept their diagnosis, so they don’t have to worry about their job. Things change over the months and expecting them to hop back is incredibly stressful.”

“What I’d say to any manager or coworker is take your lead from the person going through it,” she advised. “Work with people to create a plan just like you would a new hire. Make sure their reentry is pre-programmed.”

As for the cancer patients themselves, Colella stressed “it’s not the time to show heroics. It’s the time to take care of yourself. There are amazing support networks, websites, so lean on them.”

One such network is Breastcancer.org. “It brings together men and women who recognize the challenge that we’re up with, with this disease. It brings people together, creates opportunities for fundraising, information share and support. Those three things are all essential.”

To learn more, please visit breastcancer.org. To make a donation, please visit breastcancer.org/give.

Written by Lisa Granatstein, Beet.TV