Be the Boss Over Cancer

In 2003 I had a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy. I was on disability after my surgery and again during my treatment. I work in a small office (under 15 employees) and my boss had promised to keep my job for me. When I was ready to come back to work they had cut my hours. After a while I found another job. I was not happy at that job and was offered a job back with my old employer. I am now scheduled for reconstruction surgery. I will need to be out of work for 4-6 weeks. I have not told anyone at work yet. I am afraid that the same thing will happen. Any suggestions on how to handle this?


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  • Rebecca Nellis

    Rebecca Nellis on Jul 5, 2009

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Norah,

    I am the Director of Programs for Cancer and Careers and I wanted to suggest that you speak with someone at the Cancer Legal Resource Center, they are a nonprofit that provides pro-bono counseling on legal and insurance issues and they might have some advice about how to approach the conversation and what rights you have that you may not be aware of. We work very closely with them and their info is below! Also, I will alert our coaches and our social worker to your question for additional thoughts on how to go about this.


    Toll Free #: (866) THE-CLRC or (866) 843-2572

    Phone: (213) 736-1455

    TDD: (213) 736-8310

    Fax: (213) 736-1428




  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Jul 8, 2009

    Career Coach Comment:


    I am very sympathetic about your situation and your fear that your employer will cut your hours or possibly even eliminate your job is real. Unfortunately the reality is that you are having reconstructive surgery and that you will be out of work for 4-6 weeks. This is non-negotiable so my recommendation is that you sit down with your employer and have a heart-to-heart with him or her. I don't know what kind of work you do however is there a possibility that you can do some work from home or add value in some other way? Regardless, you should discuss this with him as soon as possible and develop a contingency plan should your fears become real.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

    Take care,


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