Facebook's top exec in Europe has incurable cancer

Zuckerberg: 'We have a responsibility to do more'
Zuckerberg: 'We have a responsibility to do more'

Facebook's top executive in Europe has revealed that she has a blood cancer called follicular lymphoma.

Nicola Mendelsohn, 46, wrote about her diagnosis in an article for The Sunday Times published on World Cancer Day. She said her cancer is "incurable," and she has tumors throughout her body.

"It is quite an unknown disease which is why I've decided to raise awareness by telling my story in the hope of driving research and a better understanding of it," she said in an additional post on Facebook (FB).

Mendelsohn, who received her diagnosis in late 2016, said she has found support in a 3,500-member Facebook group for people with the same cancer.

"It's supportive and caring, but it's also a useful source of information about living with the condition," she wrote in the British Sunday newspaper. "Members share the most personal stories and questions."

nicola mendelsohn facebook cancer
Facebook executive Nicola Mendelsohn was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in 2016.

Mendelsohn, a mother of four children aged 13 to 20, described the experience of telling her family about the diagnosis.

"It is not a conversation I could ever have imagined having with them, not even in my worst nightmares, until it hit me in the face," she wrote. "It was the hardest moment of my life."

Mendelsohn has continued to work, saying she considers herself lucky to be "mostly symptom free."

Follicular lymphoma usually grows very slowly. The U.K.-based Lymphoma Association says it can usually be kept under control for many years with occasional treatment.

The executive, who is the social network's vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said she had decided to wait and monitor the cancer. If her condition worsens, she will start treatment.

"I often talk about how people can seize their own destiny, so it's tough to be reminded that there are things you can't control," she wrote on Facebook.

Many commentators on social media thanked Mendelsohn for sharing her story and praised her bravery. The Lymphoma Association promoted her story, and other business executives expressed their support.

Mendelsohn's post on Facebook had received about 1,300 reactions by Monday afternoon.

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