Be the Boss Over Cancer

I had a double mastectomy Dec. 2013 with complications.  I am still off of work 7 months with LTD but I got a call yesterday and was told I would be Termed as of today.  Which of course means they won't keep my job for me because its been so long.  I have done the same job for 30 years and been with this company 10.  I love what I do but the lifting restrictions and I'm looking at one more surgery this has kept me from going back into the Therapy field.  I feel like I need direction I am disoriented , I'm 53  what do I do.  I have management , training/teaching and clinical experience.  Should I go a different direction how do you figure out what to do?   Thank You


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  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Jul 8, 2014

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Machell, I am so sorry this has happened to you. Fortunately you have many transferable skills.

    The first step is really for you to learn what types of jobs exist in the non-profit world, assuming you don't think that you want to try to get into the corporate world. I think your therapy and clinical experience probably would make your entry into another area of the healthcare/non-profit arena more successful.

    So, this said I would go onto LinkedIn and find a bunch of people who work in these industries and network with them. Reach out to ask them for informational meetings face-to-face and on the phone.

    Also, I would look at different organization's websites and see what types of jobs are posted and how they may align with your skill set. Try not to focus on your age for now. Just learn as much as you can about different jobs, and then when you have honed in on jobs that interest you and are a closer fit to your experience, you can systematically network into the organizations who might hire you.

    Unfortunately this is not a quick process and it is important that you are somewhat thorough in your research and learning. Good luck!

    Take care,


  • Margot Larson

    Margot Larson on Jul 9, 2014

    Career Coach Comment:


    First, I see that you are on Long Term Disability not short term.  You may want to take a look at the provisions and guidelines of that coverage and  review your employee handbook to see what whether it is a provision of that coverage and benefit. I am also confused about the "lifting" provision, if you were working as a Manager or Trainer. Did you or your doctor perhaps miss providing your employer with required documentation or follow up?   You may want to check with the legal services provided through cancer and careers to see what recourse you might have and then communicate with the Human Resource Manager. Be sure to find out how your current status affects your health care benefits.

    It sounds as though your doctor has not yet cleared you for work, and when he/she does, will it be for full time or part time?  You might want to get a sense from your doctor about when that might be. 3 months? 8 months?

    If you are not cleared to return to work full time, then you should explore Social Security Disability.

    It is a good idea to start developing a plan for when you are cleared to return to work. List your personal priorities for your next job: Relative to type of work, what do you enjoy; what do you not want to do?  Length of commute and geographical boundaries you prefer? Type of environment? Number of hours?  Pay range? Benefits?  Once you have your priority chart, then as Julie suggests, start exploring job postings to see what the description and requirements are.  Through your network, find people who are performing the type of job you want and ask about it, the demands and the organization to learn first hand it it would really suit you.   If you are having difficulty trying to figure out what you want to do, it might be helpful to brainstorm with friends or colleagues who know you and your skills, or a human resource professional you might know or professional coach.

    This is a good way for you to utilize your free time, right now.  Make a list of the target companies where you would explore a position. Make a list of the people you want to network with.  I would advise you to not apply for a job until you have been cleared for work.  You can however work at updating your resume to fit the type of job you want. (see our resources to help you do that).

    I hope this is helpful.


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