Be the Boss Over Cancer

I am cancer survivor.  During the first 6 years, I was very ill and fortunately my health took a turn for the better and I am considered cured. All of my health issues have been resolved, so I went back to college this year. I will graduate later this year and am doing very well so far.  I was offered an internship position and possibly an entry-level position.  My recruiter  who was also my professor asked me about my limitations.  I felt it was not necessary to tell her about my cancer diagnosis because it's part of my past and it's no longer a limitation to me. I am stronger and healthier and  I've been working on and off at my home business but ready to move forward in the career of my choice.  Am I wrong not telling the recruiter about my past health issues?  Will a potential employer discover my health past once I am hired especially once I obtain health benefits?  How can I explain the 6 year gap without lying?


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  • Margot Larson

    Margot Larson on Apr 6, 2012

    Career Coach Comment:


     First, congratulations on your amazing success - to be
    cancer free. And it sounds to me as though you have made some very good choices
    along the way:  Focusing on your
    treatment and getting your health back, going back to school, running a home

     You are also correct in not telling your Professor/Recruiter
    about your limitations since you have none.

    Your health history is confidential and need not be shared
    unless you require accommodations.  I do
    wonder, however, why she asked.  Did it
    sound like a routine question? Or was she fishing for more information?

     How you prepare your resume is very important at this stage
    of your career.  You may want to develop
    a Functional resume to focus on your skills and competencies rather than your

    It sounds to me as though you have the information to fill
    in the gaps:  Running your business (be sure to include
    the skills that were required to do that) and expanding your education. Remember that you do not have to include
    months in your dates of employment.  So
    stretch the years so that there is no apparent gap.  If there is an obvious gap, explain that you
    took a leave from employment because of a family health issue.

     I always advise my clients not to share their health
    information until the offer stage and then, only if they need
    accommodations.  When you enroll in the
    company’s healthcare plan, you are guaranteed coverage if they have a group
    plan.  If you are currently covered by
    another healthcare plan, you should be able to get a confirmation that would
    preclude any pre-existing conditions. 
    Please verify this information with our legal resources.

     So go forth into your new career with confidence.


  • User avatar

    Anonymous on Apr 8, 2012

    Thank you so much for your wonderful advice.  I found out that my recruiter was asking me about limitations because of my busy work and college schedule since she knows I keep a busy calendar. At first I thought  she may have been aware of my past health issues. However, I realized later that she wanted to know what days I have available to work.

    Right now, I do have my own health insurance but it is through a state sponsored high risk insurance plan which I pay for every month. However, I will check with your legal resources too.

    Thank you once again.  I am a big fan of CancerandCareers.Org and will be making a donation to your wonderful organization this month.  

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