Be the Boss Over Cancer

I have been unemployed since August of last year the only job I have had since then was a 6 week temp job as a telemarketer.

I go on interviews just about every week some times 3 to 4 a week and nothing.

Most of these jobs are telemarketer, telephone sales, market research interviewer. Most of the salary are horrible.

I don't know what I want to do any more. Could age be a factor I am in my late 50's. I need about 30-40 more credits to finish a a 2 year degree in marketing that has been on hold for several years due to money. My computer skills are not very strong. Also living place I rent a room in some one house that is horrible. We cannot eat at the table have eat in our room, cannot go any place in the house even sit out side in the back yard, cannot use any thing other than a micro wave oven, a toaster oven in the basement, and the refigerator  down there too. But the basement smells very bad, and every time I go down their have to hold my nose. Eating any thing is very limited. This could be a factor. The place has central air conditioning, but only turn it on at night during the day I just and very hot, all I am allowed is one fan. That does nothing if you are in a room with the door closed 24/7 nothing can get very cool. Also there are 4 other people in this place too every one come and goes all night long so how can I get any sleep.

 My unemployment will be ending before the year is out that could be in September, or October.

I need some help very soon. I cannot stand living like too much longer. I have been living like this for 2 years. It is HORRIBLE.


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  • Kathy Flora

    Kathy Flora on Jul 3, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    Susan,  Your situation sounds very challenging.   I can say that the one bright spot in your note is that  you are getting interviews.   However, it seems that the quality of job opportunity you have been able to surface so far is not what you expect, want or can live with.   This is scary, I know.

    I have a few suggestions, some job related and some living condition related.  But I understand that anything I say cannot solve your dilemma alone.   It will take a coordinated effort on several fronts for you to overcome this.  But, overcome you will, just as you have overcome your cancer diagnosis and treatment.  That strength will serve you well now.   Here are a few things I might suggest:

    First,  You did not say where you live, but check with Social Services in your community for several things:

    • Rent and food subsidy  if available.  It is tough living like you are right now, in shared space that is confining.   However, if you could get a voucher for subsidized housing and food stamps, you may be able to locate a room or apartment that is configured more to your needs.  Make sure it is on public transportation, so that should you find your finances are tight and you cannot drive, you'll be able to get around to your new job.
    • Job Training funds.   Through your One Stop Career Center/ Employement/Unemployment office, there may be funds available for you to get job training.  This is usually reserved for those on unemployment and can provide tuition, transportation and if needed, child care for those who need it.  Perhaps if you could get this type of assistance, it would help you get new direction. Check with them soon.
    • Assistance with targeting different types of jobs.  Check with the job counselors at the One Stop Center to get some assistance about how to target other opportunities besides call center and telemarketing jobs.  These can be commission based and may not provide the benefits you need.  If you are looking in the service section, even the hospitality industry and  retail establishments that are large chains may provide a better path forward, sometimes with benefits.
    • Your age should not be a factor, if you are careful with your appearance, and presentation of your skills.  Your resume must be working for you since you have so many interviews, so be sure to practice and polish those interview skills.  See some of the tips in the job search section to prepare your message and answers to questions.
    • Finally, don't speak about your cancer diagnosis during the interviews you do get.  That is something that is not necessary to share with future employers.  Just present yourself, your skills and your dedication to work.
    • Seek out a job search support group near your home.  Frequently, churches or non-profit agencies have such services that are free to job seekers.  I think that the support of others in the same situation will help you keep  positive.

    Finding a suitable living situation seems top most on  your minds right now.... followed by finding work to support yourself after unemployment runs out. My hope is that a few of these recommendations will help.  Wishing you strength and hope!

    God Bless you!


  • Judi Swedek

    Judi Swedek on Jul 3, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Susan,

    It sounds like you are going through a very challenging time right now. Not only is the job search challengin, but also your living situation. I agree with Kathy's advice...research rent and food subsidies and other places you may be able to live. Living in the type of environment you are in has to be difficult both physically and psychologically. Take the steps to get into a better space immediately.

    In addition to Kathy's suggestions, look for networking groups in your area, either through your local unemployment office or churches. By participating in these groups, you will not only uncover possible opportunities, but also be among people which will boost your feelings about yourself and your energy.

    Take advantage of job training funds through the unemployment center. They not only have these funds available for retraining, but also frequently sponsor classes.

    Try to find a new living situation pronto which I am confident will help with your frame of mind and confidence. In addition, make sure you add exercise to your daily routine, this will also boost your mood and energy.

    I am hoping that these ideas will help you get out of the cycle you are in and begin to help you feel better and more accomplished. Take it one step at a time.

    Warm regards,


  • William M.

    William M. on Jul 27, 2012

    I also have been renting a room for two years now. It was supposed to be converted into an apartment but that did not happen. I do have AC and access to the back yard, and I am allowed to keep my two dogs with me. I was first diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic  leukemia in Feb 2005 at age 47. The treatment consisted of 2 years of chemotherapy. Six months of intense chemo, could not work, and 18 months of maintenance chemo, returned to work part time. (Cardiac Ultrasonographer). One year into my chemo treatments my landlords retired and I had to move while I was getting chemo. I luckily found a place to rent nearby that would take my dogs. The chemo ended in Feb 07. Shortly thereafter I picked up a second part time job in a hospital and I am on my way back to normality. Unfortunately I relapsed in Feb 08 requiring intensive treatment at Dana Farber. I received a non related donor matched transplant in may of 2008. Over the course of the two treatment I lost over 75lbs, mainly muscle tissue. When I returned home in June of 08 I could barely walk. One year of complete Isolation was ordered. A few months after returning home my landlord said that he had been forclosed and I had to go. I was in no shape what soever to move but the bank insisted I go and I did. I did find a small place in a city that would take my dogs but things were very tight. I tried returning to cardiac ultrasound but I gave up after six months. I was simply too weak and had developed CGVHD especially of the eyes that persists to this day. An offer was made by a old friend, that he would put together a apartment at his house in nice coastal community, were many years ago I used to live. When I moved down no apartment was ready, so I stayed in a basement that had been just recently completely flooded out, for six months. The room became ready and I got out of the basement, however it is just a large room not an apartment. I closed out a small pension to put down $5000 and the rent would be $550 per months no utilities. Well I have been stuck in this room for a year and half, have not been able to find any part time work, I am alone and by myself most of the day

    and go for days without talking to anyone. By moving down here I completely removed myself from doing cardiac ultrasound. I do have a back to work specialist, the best I have been able to do with him is get one four hour shift once  a week a fitness center. It has been 7 years since I worked full time and 4 years plus since I worked part time. I lost over 75lbs of strength and vitality and an estimated $400000 in wages. This whole thing has become toxic for me.

  • Kathy Flora

    Kathy Flora on Jul 30, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    William,  I feel your pain and anxiety as I read your post. You have been through so much and have fought for so long.   You are exhibiting a very strong spirit through this fight.  

    I understand why working at your former profession will not work for you.  And, living on the Cape or on the coast has enabled further isolation and lack of opportunity.

    Although I cannot pretend to provide an answer that will mitigate your situation right away, or take the angst away, I can offer some resources and suggestions that may help you take a few steps in a positive direction.

    First, The Cancer Legal Resources Center provides free legal services to those struggling with the issues that cancer engenders.   Perhaps they can advise you on disability either through Social Security or your former employers.

    Then, Cancer Care: Financial Resources, may also be able to provide some ideas on how to weather the financial situation you face. They also have licensed social workers who may be of assistance as you plan your strategy for improving your current living and work situation.   

    There are also numerous support groups for survivors and also for job seekers, whether the seeker has had cancer or not.  These often can be found through the local religious organizations, through the state One Stop Career Centers, or for support groups, through local the American Cancer Society or even the local hospital.

    Our site has an extensive list of resources and contact information that I recommend you dig into to find these organizations and others that may help.  To get to them, simply click on the resources link (in white at the top center of the page) and then peruse the links and information.

    One last thought, although I hope I am not insulting you with the obvious.  Sometimes our spirit can be revived by reaching out to others who are in need and providing them with service or just the solace of friendship.  Is there some way that you can spend a little time each week offering support to someone else in need?  This may be through volunteer work, or just phone calls to fellow survivors, or through utilizing your extensive medical knowledge to blog, or write about your experiences over the Internet.    I know it will not solve the financial problem or the career issue of being unable to find livelihood in what you used to do.  But, you may find that others gain from what you have to offer them, and at the same time, will break down that isolation that is sitting on your heart right now.

    I will keep you in my thoughts as you work toward making some changes that you determine will help you gain more happiness.  Please write again to let us all know how you are faring.


    Kathy Flora, Career Coach

  • William M.

    William M. on Jul 31, 2012

    Thank you Kathy for your reply.

    One Idea I had was to match up struggling cancer survivors with each other, so they could combine incomes and find reasonable rentals. It would entail one or more individuals moving, maybe out of state etc. There are various types of group homes for all types of issues, maybe cancer survivors could be one of them. Not all survivors have family to fall back on, combining resources, finding livable living conditions would ally many problems with survivorship. 

    Bill Mcniff

  • Judi Swedek

    Judi Swedek on Jul 31, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Bill,

    That sounds like a great idea and way to make a difference. It would also provide a venue for cancer survivors to connect and feel like they are helping one another. Keep thinking of ideas and opportunities to give back. We are here for a purpose and have experienced what we have for a purpose, find that purpose.

    Kind regards,

    Judi Swedek

  • Sarah Goodell

    Sarah Goodell on Jul 31, 2012

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Bill,

    I agree with
    Judi – that’s a really interesting idea.  You also might want to consider
    going to your local cancer center and speaking with someone to gauge interest
    in this type of program, as well as speaking with the members and/or
    facilitators of some of the support groups there.

    Lastly, we
    wanted to share with you the contact info for some of the resources that Kathy
    recommended above (as well as two additional ones) – let us know if you have
    any more questions!

    • National Cancer Legal Services Network
    •  ( – find a free
      legal service provider located near you

    • Cancer Legal Resource Center (, (866) 843-2572 – free
      national legal hotline
    • CancerCare (, (800‑813‑4673)
      – online support groups, financial resources, and more
    • Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition ( – listing of
      organizations that provide financial assistance to cancer survivors



  • William M.

    William M. on Aug 23, 2012

    I may be taken off SSDI. The ruling is, I no longer have leukemia, so I am ok. No discussion on Chronic graft vs host disease. I have had enough.

  • Sarah Goodell

    Sarah Goodell on Aug 23, 2012

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Bill,

    If you haven't already sought legal information, now is the time. The two organizations that I would recommend reaching out to are the National Cancer Legal Services Network and the Cancer Legal Resource Center, I have listed their contact information below.

    National Cancer Legal Services Network (

    Cancer Legal Resource Center
    (, (866) 843-2572

    I hope that this is helpful and please let us know if you have any more questions.


    Sarah, Cancer and Careers Program Coordinator

  • Kathy Flora

    Kathy Flora on Aug 23, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    William, I know it is hard, but  there are advocates available for you. Please reach out to the legal resources that Sarah has listed above.  Also, reach out to, a support resource of counselors who work providing support and solutions to survivors and cancer patients.    I think that you will find the hope and pathways to solution that you may need.  

    Don't give up.    You're a fighter!  


  • William M.

    William M. on Sep 2, 2012

    Just a note. Due to CGVHD issues, I will not be taken off SSDI. Phew! Thanks to all for the support and encouragement.


  • Judi Swedek

    Judi Swedek on Sep 3, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    This is great news, Bill. You must feel so relieved and happy about this. May it propel you toward many good things.

    Kind regards,


  • William M.

    William M. on Sep 3, 2012

    Thanks Judi!

    I want to make a post about  the fitness market and get every ones thoughts on it, will the falling economy really make this a viable career? I will start another blog on this.

    Thanks Bill

  • Kathy Flora

    Kathy Flora on Sep 4, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    Bill, What a relief!    And, I can tell from your last post that you are feeling more energized and excited about the future.    Congrats for weathering this storm.  Wishing you all the best,  Kathy

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