Be the Boss Over Cancer

I just turned 27.  Was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma three years ago.  Have had treatment on and off since then (with short remissions.) During this time, I finished law school (December 2010), and worked part time a little bit off and on.  Since my last treatment, which started in March 2011, I have not worked.  I had an allo stem cell transplant (september 2011- december 2011), an it is a long recovery time, so I have been recovering.  Latest scans show I am in one is in one week.

I have applied for disability (which will hopefully be retroactive..) and I have cobra, but I need to get a job soon.

I am not particularly interested in getting a legal job just yet, because I haven't taken the bar yet and I don't think I am up for it yet.  

What I need to know is about applying for jobs.  I am planning on seeking something maybe part time, something that is not particularly demanding, and transitioning later.  But I don't know what to put on my resume.  Since I went to school and then became a cancer patient, I don't have much work experience (except for various part time jobs I had in college, etc.). I also don't know if I should include my law school education for the types of jobs I am going to be applying for?

I have been reading posts on here and they all say not to disclose your medical history, so I am considering just lying about my graduation date and avoiding the gap all together? 

If not, is it ever appropriate to explain the gaps in a cover letter or interview (if asked in the interview?)

Thank you, 



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  • Judi Swedek

    Judi Swedek on Apr 11, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Kathleen,

    Congratulations on completing Law School, finishing treatment, and now remission...way to go!

    I understand your concern about the gap, but please don't ever misrepresent the truth on your resume, regarding your question about graduation date. Employers can easily check and you don't want this to be a red flag that disqualifies you.

    As to the gap, which is really only a year since your graduation, you can say that you have taken some personal time after graduation and then quickly talk about the skills, abilities, and knowledge you bring to a position. Never talk about your past medical history, as it could close a door before you have a chance to walk through to present yourself. It shouldn't, but unfortunately it does. Depending upon the type of jobs you are applying for, try to use a combination resume, that is highlight your skills, knowledge, and abilities appropriate for the job at the top of the resume, then work experience followed by education or education followed by work experience depending upon the position requirements. No need to address the gap in your resume, but if you feel inclined include in your cover letter using the same type of verbiage as I mentioned above.

    More than anything, network, network, network...that is how 70+% of jobs are found. Look for local networking groups through Linkedn, your University, alumni groups, churches, etc. You will be amazed at the results and also how energized you will feel as a result.

    Much success to you as you embark on this next chapter of life and career. Let me know how it goes.

    Warm regards,


  • Alice McKenney

    Alice McKenney on Apr 11, 2012

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Kathleen,

    Just wanted to add in that we have a sample version of the combined resume Judi mentions above, you can reference it here:



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