Twenty years ago, Cancer and Careers was founded in response to the growing recognition that cancer patients and survivors needed support, guidance and services to navigate work after their diagnosis. Our seed was planted when five Board Members from Cosmetic Executive Women, Inc. (CEW)—all of whom were professionally successful, accomplished women—shared with Carlotta Jacobson (CEW’s President) that they had been diagnosed with cancer. These women were groundbreakers in their work lives and their jobs meant a great deal to their identity and sense of self, but they realized there was no “playbook” to help them manage their career after a diagnosis. It became clear to Carlotta that there was a dire need to create an organization that could address these challenges and concerns for millions of people in similar situations—and pave the way for robust conversations about how to improve the intersection between business and health.
Fast forward to today—we are still the only national non-profit with a mission to educate and empower people with cancer to thrive in their workplace. From one staff member and a fledgling website in 2001, to hosting the first National Conference on Work & Cancer in 2011, to reaching more than 485,000 people online with our content, programs and services last year—it’s an understatement to say we have evolved alongside our incredible community.
Cancer and Careers has always understood the complexity of managing employment, and the impact it can have on an individual’s life and livelihood. We know that many patients and survivors want to continue working—or get back into the workforce—for reasons that are important, personal and often totally unique to them. We have been there to champion and validate their journey, its peaks and valleys, joys and frustrations.
I am lucky to have been a part of this organization for the last 17 years and have had the privilege of working with a talented staff (current and past), an abundance of community partners and a remarkable collection of funders and board members—many of whom have supported us since the very beginning. It’s rare to be with an organization for most of its existence, and truly a testament to how much I believe in our mission, the essential nature of our work and the profound importance of serving our community.
As we look to the future (and hopefully another 20+ years), we are committed to expanding our thought-leadership, advocacy and expertise so that the nearly 17 million survivors in the US can continue to be vital and valued members of the workforce. We hope that you will join us in recognizing this important milestone. Throughout the year, there will be many opportunities to be part of the collective celebration.
One way to help us celebrate is to share your story. We would love to know how CAC has impacted your life—in ways big or small. Whether you first connected with us years ago or just last week, if our programs, resources or staff have made a positive difference in your work and cancer journey, please tell us. Click here to share.