Be the Boss Over Cancer

I am diagnosed with stage 1 BC as of 12/28. Started a job search in November as a result of a career change decision to transition from an independent consultant for web content management marketing & strategies for corporate and high tech vendors to a marketing role in a nonprofit org for a social cause I feel strongly about. As luck would have it, now have a real chance at this type of position and have a 2nd interview (presentation to execs & board) scheduled for Feb 11. At the same time I've been applying for and now approved as of Feb 3 for MassHealth/Medicaid as I was uninsured. So now I can schedule my surgery and am agonizing over 2 dates: Feb 11 (obviously a conflict with interview) and Feb 23. Although I can imagine myself in this new job, there is of course no guarantee that I will get it. And I do not want to tell a prospective employer about the BC -- either during the interview process or if someone makes me an offer. But then how to explain or deal with side effects, radiation appts, etc. It all seems overwhelming and unrealistic. I have slowed my job search/applications beyond planning to show up for this 2nd interview to try and figure this out. The last thing my mental health would need is to accept too big of a job, or be dishonest about my ability to do it. I have now been blessed with full insurance coverage, but I certainly need an income stream to survive financially and also, not to fall into "hole" in not working for 6 months or more. (Although I know many are in that position; but I cannot receive unemployment since I was an independent & 1099.) Would SO appreciate thoughts... and as an FYI, I called the ACS 800 to speak with someone about all the questions I had even beyond the job fears - and Melanie was so helpful, patient and nice. Thats also how I found this web site. Their number is 800 227 2345.


Leave a comment
  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Feb 7, 2010

    Career Coach Comment:


    I am a bit delayed in getting back to you with a response to your very difficult situation because I really wanted to give you a thoughtful reply. I know the 11th is Thursday and don't know whether or not you have actually made a decision about what to do yet.

    If your doctor is giving you an option date-wise for your surgery, I would definitely go with the 23rd and keep your 2nd interview. You have made the definite decision not to tell a prospective employer about your breast cancer which I support and agree with, especially as the diagnosis is Stage 1 and you really don't know what to expect.

    I would hate to see you lose out on a meaningful job opportunity and to your rational point, you may not even get the job. This said, try to be thorough about learning about their hiring process, how many other viable candidates they are considering and their time-frame for hiring (and if after your presentation/interview) you are still in the running, which I am sure you will be!).

    Once you have had the surgery and are clear about your radiation treatment and appointments, you can be more strategic in your approach with a prospective or hopefully new employer.

    Please know that while I believe work is important, your health is of course most important. Right now though, you can try to balance a job search and your treatment and until you can't (or this may not even be the case) try to keep moving forward with this exciting situation and others that come up.

    You probably have never felt more overwhelmed so remember that the most realistic course of action is making one small decision or taking one action step at a time in order to handle everything on your plate.

    Best wishes with everything and if you get the chance, please write again and let us know how you are doing.



  • Jessica S.

    Jessica S. on Feb 8, 2010

    As someone who just dealt with this issue (I was diagnosed the day before my phone interview and then was asked for an on campus interview during my surgery) I know how hard this struggle is. the best advice for me was to remember that the cancer didn't stop by from being able to apply or to do the job successfully. While I felt like I was lying to my employers, I knew I did not need to disclose any information - while this seems so obvious, we all know that when we have cancer, it is the number one thing on our mind, so we think about it in terms of everything we do. My advice is to go with it - I have found most employers willing to work with you and are impressed at your dedication while going through such a trying time in your life.

  • Anonymous C.

    Anonymous C. on Feb 8, 2010

    Thanks for your response Julie - and thought put into it. Sitting in limbo at moment, lots of angst over admin not scheduling until ins card secured, which I just received this am. Did lots of work on presentation for interview this weekend & continung now as I wait for word on schedule date. One foot in front of other is the mantra - do what's in front of me. Waiting for "universe" to decide I guess - may be told at this point 11th not viable, hence decision would be made for me. Will chk back in later -

  • Anonymous C.

    Anonymous C. on Feb 9, 2010

    Thanks much Jessica for sharing, awesome how this works. Update - I've decided to accept an open "slot" for the 11th, booked and scheduled. Emailed contact for interview with true story re: unexpected opp to have surgery -- but no details. Requested a week postpone for 18th & received a no problem health comes first response! Big load off & the road is still open! Now to focus on doing whats in front of me for next few days. Thanks again for the sharing/advice/support. And an admin question - whats the search engine access to threads like these? Got a bit of paranoia about privacy now that the conversation's "out here" :-)

  • Anonymous C.

    Anonymous C. on Mar 9, 2010

    So, I would still like to hear from folks if anyone's willing, but have found a great thread on the mult surgeries issue at

    thank god for women supporting women - and of course, the internet ;-)

  • Anonymous C.

    Anonymous C. on Mar 9, 2010

    Hello forum -

    Finally updating after getting through the past month - thx again for your support. Good news! Was offered and have accepted the NP role I discussed in initial post, without disclosing info that would make me uncomfortable. Start date of 3/22. Discouraging news, had lumpectomy feb 11, back in for the need to get clean margins on 3/3, and just now got a call that 1 final margin not clear & scheduled for another this thurs, 3/11. From surgeon point of view, explanation is that although frustrating, is the result of a cancer that was never a lump, but a radial scar -- and is also the best route to clear it all since it is stage 1 and DCIS. She "guarantees" this is last time since the margin in question is deep and close to a muscle - so once the tissue is removed, there is no more tissue in that area to remove - i.e. all thats left is the muscle. She also reminded me of the thoroughness of the pathologists who are exact in knowing when something is cleared or not. Not surpisingly I am thinking "is this normal" i.e. multiple surgeries. When I went in for the second time, did some research and know that I am not alone in having multiples. But with this 3rd time news, thought I would reach out again to the forum that gave me so much strength a month ago. Thanks in advance.

  • Jack M.

    Jack M. on Apr 5, 2010

    Nice post. Thank you

Post a Comment

Please sign in to post a comment