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I am a 54-yr old breast cancer survivor; diagnosed in Jan 2009, and double mastectomy in March 2009. Although I was spared from chemo, I'm still feeling rather exhausted and fatigued all the time. I'm able to put in an 8-hr day, but more than that is too much on me. The high stress and long hours I'm facing at work concerns me - as it affects my immune system. My question is, can an employer force you to work hours that are beyond your physical and mental limitations?

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  • Alice McKenney

    Alice McKenney on Sep 23, 2010

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Carol,

    I 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 might have some advice on what is and isn't legal in this situation. We work very closely with them and their info is below.

    Contact:

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

    Phone: (213) 736-1455

    TDD: (213) 736-8310

    Fax: (213) 736-1428

    Email: CLRC@LLS.edu

    http://www.cancerlegalresourcecenter.org/

    I hope this helps!

    Warmly,

    Alice

  • Rebecca Nellis

    Rebecca Nellis on Feb 3, 2011

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Ann Louise,

    First of all congratulations on your Business degree, that is a major accomplishment!

    There is nothing easy about the marathon you are facing right now, the job market is tough and the balancing act of cancer treatment, life and work is hard. In general we don't recommend discussing your cancer during an interview process but it sounds like in your case it might be unavoidable because I am guessing you might need to take time off for treatment or need a reasonable accommodation. However, I would still hold off on bringing cancer into the discussion until you are well along the path to a job and your skills and experience have made you a candidate they want. Before you do anything, I would recommend you understand your protections under the law (generally speaking prospective employers are not allowed to ask about your health or discriminate against you because of it, often easier said then done). In order for you to get a better handle on your rights, you should contact the Cancer Legal Resource Center, they are a nonprofit that provides pro-bono counseling on legal and insurance issues and they might have some advice on what is and isn't legal in this situation. We work very closely with them and their info is below.

    Contact:

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

    Email: CLRC@LLS.edu

    http://www.cancerlegalresourcecenter.org/

    I would also recommend you find a social worker to speak with about your feelings of being overwhelmed or a support group to join in order to have a community who you can discuss these issues with and who can tell you how they dealt with these same challenges. If you aren't quite ready to talk about this in person yet, we have a Collective Diary (http://www.cancerandcareers.org/diary/) where you can read about people's experiences juggling work and treatment at different points in time, there is a lot of great advice housed in those personal stories.

    In addition, you might find our job search tools helpful (http://www.cancerandcareers.org/career-coaching/job-search-tools/), they include an interview cheat sheet and template resumes.

    We are also offering a series of Ask The Experts teleconferences where you can call in and get advice from a legal expert and a career coach, these might be a helpful way to get some of your questions answered as they come up. The registration will be open late next week here on our website. The schedule is:

    Career Coach: Julie Jansen,

    Executive and Career Coach and Author

    1. Weds March 23rd – 6:30pm EST/3:30pm PT

    2. Tues May 17th – 7:30pm EST/4:30pm PT

    3. Weds July 20th – 9:00pm EST/6:00pm PT

    4. Thurs October 6th – 1:00pm EST/10:00am PT

    Legal Expert: Joanna L. Morales, Esq.,

    Director, Cancer Legal Resource Center

    1. Weds March 30th – 6:30pm EST/3:30pm PT

    2. Tues May 24th – 7:30pm EST/4:30pm PT

    3. Weds July 27th – 9:00pm EST/6:00pm PT

    4. Thurs October 13th – 1:00pm EST/10:00am PT

    Lastly, we offer a series of publications and a bi-monthly newsletter both of which can be accessed on our website for more information. And, as you face specific questions regarding your job search please post here again and our coaches will help you address them as they come up.

    Warmly,

    Rebecca

    Rebecca Nellis

    Director of Programs

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