Be the Boss Over Cancer

I completed treatment for breast cancer in April, was let go from my position in July, have been consulting since then and am now interviewing for a new position, thus there is no gap in my resume. I have some minor issues with stamina, have an inch of hair under my wig which I've worn at interviews, and still have doctors appointments on occasion. I need to stretch hourly because of the aromatese inhibitor. At some point I will stop wearing the wig, will need time for MD appointments, and may not be able to put in long hours every time I am asked. When in the interview process should I tell the potential new employer, if at all, of my cancer?


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  • Sara D.

    Sara D. on Nov 29, 2010


    Congrats on getting through your treatment! I too dealt with cancer and six months of chemo. My husband's job transfer meant a job change for me too and I was practically hairless, scarred and scared.

    All of your issues seem to be pretty common. Ask any new mother is she has issues with stamina, alopecia sufferers about wigs, most of us (if we're past 40)regarding doctors appointments and we would all benefit from more regular stretching. If you've cared for a sick child, aged parent or just like a healthy balance of work and life we have to prioritize and it's OK if long work hours aren't at the top of the list from time to time.

    Not to lessen your concerns or your medical issues, but I guess my thinking is that these aren't deal breakers. Most important, you've fought an amazing fight and came out at the end.

    I told potential employers that I was a cancer survivor. I made sure I understood their policy on sick leave and if it could be used for doctors appointments, etc. I read their long and short term disability policies with an advisor prior to accepting a position.

    I would focus on what you can contribute to the organization and make sure they can accomodate the knowns about what you know you'll need to continue your recovery.

    Good luck!

  • Rosalind Joffe

    Rosalind Joffe on Nov 29, 2010

    Career Coach Comment:

    Dear Julie

    Congratulations on completing the treatment. I imagine that losing your job soon after must have been difficult. But it sounds as if you've rebounded well.

    You're right that the consulting is a good transition on your resume. It typically is also useful in keeping you active and visible in your field. So it's a win/win generally.

    There's clearly no "right" or "wrong" answer regarding disclosure. I can't tell if the things that you mention, such as stretching, medical appointments, and perhaps limiting hours, will affect your ability to get your job done. But that's what I suggest you base your decision on.

    I suggest you talk about your medical "needs" - the things you know you will need, rather than suspect - only if you think they'll be a problem immediately in getting your work done well.

    If so and you don't disclose, your employer might feel that you weren't honest from the outset and wonder what else you didn't say.

    If these issues will not affect your ability to get your job done (e.g.,it's a flexible environment where you can work later - due to appointments or he need to go home early one day), then I'd suggest waiting until you need to talk about it.

    If and when you disclose, I suggesting focusing on the present and your current experience - what you need and how you can get your job done. Keep it matter of fact for them and for you

    FYI - eliminating a wig shouldn't be a problem regarding performance. But it tells others that you wore one and they'll wonder why -- unless you tell them.

    I hope that this is helpful!



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