Be the Boss Over Cancer

I was diagnosed in 2/2009 shortly after being laid off from my job. From Feb 2009-October 2009, I underwent Chemo, Radiation, Mastectomies and expanders. In November I interviewed for a position and just got the call last week that I've been hired. I'm very worried how to handle this. While I received the "no evidence of disease", and have gotten a good chunk of my strength back, I still need to 1- go for Zolmeta infusions once a month only available during business hours 2- see the plastic surgeon once a month for my expanders 3- in the near future, have my port removed 4- in the near future have my expanders replaced with implants I start Jan 4- what do I tell them? WHat verbage should I use? This is a company that stressed during the interviewed about health and employees reflecting a healthy lifestyle... WHat do I say? TO whom should I say it?


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  • Rebecca Nellis

    Rebecca Nellis on Dec 28, 2009

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Bonnie,

    Congratulations on the new job!

    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 will have advice about how to handle the accommodations you will need from a legal standpoint. We work very closely with them and their info is below.

    Otherwise, I have alerted our coaches to your post and I am sure they will have some thoughts about how to have the conversation from an HR persepctive.


    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 Jan 5, 2010

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Bonnie,

    My apologies for not responding to this in time. Coincidentally, I was visiting my Dad who has rectal cancer.

    Presumably you started your new job today and I hope your first day went well. I hope you were able to contact Cancer and Career's Legal Resource Center before you started your new job to get some advice. You definitely will need to tell your boss and perhaps even human resources about your situation if you think that you will be unable to schedule the time off you need within the structure of your job and when you need to be there.

    However, I am of the opinion that this isn't something you share Day One, Week One or even in the first month. I think that you will need to do all the things that new employees need to do to demonstrate their competencies, positive attitude and value add to their new job and employer. Go the extra mile, start developing relationships with all of your stakeholders and make your employer and colleagues think to themselves, "Gosh, we are so glad that we have hired Bonnie." Then get very precise about the time you will need to accomplish your very important health and cancer recovery goals and pick the right time to disclose it, if indeed you deem it necessary to do so.

    My best wishes for your health and success!



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