Be the Boss Over Cancer

I have stage 4 colon cancer that was diagnosed in August 2008. I began my regiman of chemo Sept. 30, 2008. I receive chemo every other Tue. This regiman continues.

I was laid off my job in June 2010. The work I was laid off from I did for 14 years. My job search has pretty much been fruitless. I updated my resume'. I continue searching. In one phone interview, I disclosed my medical condition and was told to get back in touch with them when my treatment was finished. I have not been given a timetable for when my treatment will end. It's clear to me that I need to get in touch with a potential employer that can appreciate my skill set AND understands with sensitivity and compassion my treatment schedule and can work with me around it.

I don't have the time or money to go back to college to develop a new talent. I need to find a job that utilizies the 14 years of experience I already have. And I know there are openings in this field in my area. Unfortuantely, I don't get any replies to these positions when I apply for them. Not lately. I am starting to get discouraged. Where do I go from here?


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  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Jun 30, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Scott,

    I am sorry you have been having such a rough time overall. I wish you had told us what type of work you do exactly. Also, are you literally out of work two full days per month because of your chemo? Why hasn't your medical team given you an idea of how long your chemo regime will continue?

    Because I do not have this information, I have to give you more general advice. If you are willing to write another post and answer my questions above, this would be helpful in customizing my response to you.

    As you have learned the hard way, disclosing your medical situation on the phone is premature and not the ideal tactic in positioning yourself as a great candidate. Your bigger issue right now is getting interviews. It could be that your resume does not reflect your achievements and expertise in an engaging and contemporary way. You may just be answering ads on job boards, which statistically reap low returns in the form of interviews. Networking is always the way to find a new job, especially as you need an empathetic and flexible employer to accomodate your treatment.

    Please don't give up. It is encouraging to know that there is hiring going on in your profession so you probably just need to take a different approach by going to in-person networking meetings, reaching out to people from your past, creating a target list of potential employers and networking in to them and perhaps revamping your resume.

    I hope to hear from you again Scott. Good luck!

    Take care,


  • Judi Swedek

    Judi Swedek on Jul 4, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Scott:

    I am sorry to hear of the difficulties you have been encountering and completely understand your frustration. It must also be hard not to know the timetable you are under in terms of treatments.

    Unfortunately, you ahve found the hard way that disclosing medical information too soon in the interview process can close a door much too prematurely. Going forward as you interview and network, keep that information private. You want the focus to be on who you are professionally and the accomplishments and skills you bring to a position. Since you had been at your job for 14 years, it's clear that you are good at what you do and have much to offer.

    Networking is the best way to find a to everyone you know, find local networking groups...anywhere you can meet people and find out about opportunities and who is hiring. I had one colleague who found her job through her hairdresser, who knew many people and shared my friend's resume with all she knew.

    Also, review your resume and make certain it includes accomplishments rather than duties or responsibilities. Highlighting what you ahve accomplished will allow a potential employer to know what you can do for them. Have others review your resume and ask for feedback. Review the resources on this site for helpful hints.

    Stay focused on what you need. Interview from a position of strength, and remember to share only your professional accomplishments and what you can do for the employer. Wait until they make you an offer before sharing/asking for anything further.

    Let us know how things are going and what more we can do to help. Much success to you.

    With kindness,


  • Scott D.

    Scott D. on Jul 5, 2011

    Here are some more details concerning my situation: My medical team told me in August 2008 that my regimen would be chemotherapy every other week for as long as it takes to reduce or destroy my cancer cells. To this day, I continue with this regimen. I have received over 100 rounds of chemo. Because I am stage 4 and it's in my colon and abdomain, this is my only option.

    I go to the hospital every other week on Tuesday for treatment and I am fitted with an infusion pump that I wear Wed. and return on Thur. I would have to be out of work on Tue. and Thur., possibly Wed. The drugs make me very tired and sleepy. I would be limited in any physical duties on the following Fri. of my chemo week.

    What, if any, other details do you need to thoroughly answer my question? Thanks, Skot

  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Jul 7, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:


    Thanks so much for the additional info about your treatment. I also want to know what you do for a living? Candidly, you have to be out of work a large percentage of time so I think that looking for part-time/flexible work is the way to go until you end your treatment.

    If you don't mind writing again, please do so and tell me exactly what you do for a living so I can brainstorm some ideas for pursuing part-time work. Thanks Scott!

    Take care,


  • Judi Swedek

    Judi Swedek on Jul 7, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Scott...

    I was thinking the same as Julie just mentioned. Depending upon the type of work you do, part-time/flex hours and/or job sharing might work best. There are quite a few organizations that offer this type of work environment.

    Warm regards,


  • Scott D.

    Scott D. on Jul 7, 2011

    The work I did for 14 years was working in a mailroom/service center setting for law firms and corporate accts. A lot of businesses needed us for file room management, processing incoming/outgoing mail, ordering and distributing office supplies, document imaging, copying, laminating, etc. I worked for ATL. legal copies, IKON office solutions, and DTI. The last 6-8 yrs. was at law firms.

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