Be the Boss Over Cancer

I am an RN, and had a double mastectomy with major reconstruction, which included removal of some of my abdominal muscles. My issue is that I requested to return to light duty or part time and was told they only offer that to someone who has been injured/an illness aquired at work. In 2 weeks my FMLA is over and I know now that I will not be able to push our med carts or residents in wheelchairs or help lift a resident. I was told I would have to return to full duty by July 27th. I also have fibromyalgia and fatigue is a major issue. How do I approach speaking with my HR or Director about these issues? Am I covered under the discrimination laws?


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  • Lorna G.

    Lorna G. on Jul 11, 2010

    Returning to work, when you know you can't perform all the tasks.

  • Alice McKenney

    Alice McKenney on Jul 13, 2010

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Lorna,

    I have forwarded your question on to one of our career coaches. In the meantime, I recommend contacting the Cancer Legal Resource Center. They provide free legal consultations over the phone and can advise you to whether something is illegal or not. Their information is below.


    Toll Free: (866) THE-CLRC or (866) 843-2572

    Phone: (213) 736-1455

    TDD: (213) 736-8310

    Fax: (213) 736-1428


    Let us know if you have any more questions and good luck!


    Alice McKenney

    Foundation Coordinator

    Cancer and Careers

  • Rosalind Joffe

    Rosalind Joffe on Jul 14, 2010

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Lorna,

    Alice has addressed where you can learn about the legality of what you face. Although that's important, I believe it should be a last resort. First see what you can do by managing the situation strategically.

    I'm assuming you didn't have fibro prior to the cancer or that it wasn't an issue for you at that point in working full time. At this time, you want to return to your work but have physical restrictions and fatigue. A tough combo but you can still work and you should be able to!

    Without more knowledge of the culture of your workplace, I can't be too specific about what to say or ask for. Your best bet is to approach someone whom you trust- -your supervisor, your HR rep or even someone in another department and seek advice regarding how to make this happen within your organization. Your advantage is that you've proven you're a valued worker. But you've been gone for a while and they might worry that you will only be a problem. So you want to let them know that you are still the same good worker you always were although you now have limitations. Consider how a more flexible job with different responsibilities can be advantageous for them and make a case for that. It's generally more costly and difficult for them to replace you, even in a bad economy. Be sure to play to your strengths as you make your case for why you need this flexibility. Good luck with this.


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