Be the Boss Over Cancer

Not sure where to begin.

I got a new job in January of 2010 with a community college where I had been a part-time instructor for many years. I worked at this new full-time job (while struggling with an illness unrelated to the cancer) for two and a half months before the diagnosis in March of 2010. I had chemo last spring and summer, radiation in the fall, and a prophylactic mastectomy and salpingo-oopherectomy in December. Since then, I have worked part-time (very part-time) from home. I thought that I would feel strong enough to return to work by now and told them so, but I do not. I am still quite fatigued and do not know what to say to them or tell them or ask them. I have been getting by on donated leave for months. Please give me some advice about how to handle this.


Leave a comment
  • Margot Larson

    Margot Larson on Mar 8, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:

    You have really been through a lot over the last year.
    No wonder you feel fatigued. I can understand your concern about not jumping back into the world of work. Remember, however, that your primary job is to get better. Your co-workers generosity should not cause you guilt; they are there to support you. You are doing the best you can with what you have been served up.

    So what are your options- your plan going forward?
    You could continue to work from home. Do you have the energy and technology to conduct some Webinars for your current employer and perhaps others? These can be stimulating and rewarding. Could you develop curriculum for workshops and seminars? Could you engage in some freelance writing? Could you fill some of your time volunteering, coaching, helping others facing adversity?

    Perhaps one of your goals should be to create a new sense of purpose; to recognize and bask in the little successes and rewards. Take it a step at a time and give yourself ample time to heal, both mentally and physically.

  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Mar 11, 2011

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Patsy,

    Margot's advice is great regarding other work options. However, it sounds as if your real  and immediate concern is how to handle telling your current employer that you are not yet ready to come back to work full-time  This said, just sit your manager down and be honest.

     I agree that the singular most important goal you have is to get healthy, recover your energy level and keep yourself psychologically balanced. When you are talking to your manager, tell him or her that you like your job very much and you want to keep working in your job however you simply cannot go back to work yet. If your manager asks you when you can, I would be wary of committing to a deadline. Instead talk about a check-in point of time when you can discuss it again. Do not offer excuses or apologize. This isn't your fault. It's merely a reality. If the community college decides that they cannot continue giving you the time you need, then go to Plan B. This means that you should be thinking of a Plan B as everyone in life should, regardless of how settled they think they are!

    Good luck! Oh and one more thing, it's always easier to have a tough conversation when you script it out first. Keep it short and sweet.

    Take care,


  • Patsy E.

    Patsy E. on Mar 20, 2011

    Any ideas for Plan B? I don't want to quit. Do I wait until they fire me?

Post a Comment

Please sign in to post a comment