Be the Boss Over Cancer

I have been dealing with an incurable cancer diagnosis for over two years now.  I have recently had some very unpleasant issues arise with my long-time public sector employer (county government) of 7 years.  I would like to find a new job.  If I look for a new position within my current employer, I can retain my short-term disability coverage.  However, I would much rather leave.  But, leaving means I would lose my short-term disability coverage because the majority of policies have language that excludes preexisting conditions.  I feel like I'm trapped because it would be foolish for me to lose my STD.  I wanted to get a second opinion to confirm if my logic makes the most sense, i.e. that keeping my STD is what I need to prioritize even if it means severely impacting my emotional well being?  I have an interview this week with another employer that looks very promising and suspect I will need to make a decision soon.


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  • Julie Jansen

    Julie Jansen on Apr 22, 2014

    Career Coach Comment:

    Hi Jennifer, 

    I am so sorry that you are going through this. Your situation has many dimensions including the practical aspects of choosing to leave or stay, as well as the psychological and emotional aspects. Admittedly because I am a career coach, my perspective tends to focus on the importance of being gratified, feeling productive and meeting your core values. Yes, a paycheck and benefits are necessary for most people, and in your case STD is indeed a huge benefit. 

    This said, what I do know is that not only are you dealing with the huge burden of dealing with an incurable disease but you also are dealing with the stress of what sounds like a toxic environment.  If you choose to continue to work in these conditions, your self-esteem and confidence will erode and the longer this goes on, the harder it will be to recover, even when you actually do leave your job. This will certainly not help your health. 

    So, I vote for going on interviews and taking charge of your career. If you need more help in the process, please don't hesitate to write again. Good luck Jennifer!

    Take care,


  • Rebecca Nellis

    Rebecca Nellis on Apr 22, 2014

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Jennifer,

    I think it is smart to think the way you are thinking, and it is going to be a very tough call because you are right it would be very difficult to get access to disability insurance for you now (possibly impossible). Do you feel like you may need to use it in the nearer term?  Have you discussed this with your healthcare team to get a sense of what they see your disease progression looking like?  Have you reviewed the policy you are on now?  You might want to reach out to one of the legal resources listed on the National Cancer Legal Services Network to discuss your specific policy ( Julie is right to bring up the questions of do you want to spend your time in such a toxic space, and that can't be underestimated but neither can access to a benefit like short term disability.  I would advise learning as much as possible about what you have now, and getting a sense of what your trusted team of healthcare pros thinks so you can feel as confident as possible about your ultimate decision.

    Lastly, you don't happen to live in CA, HI, NJ, NY, RI or Puerto Rico by any chance? Those places all have state disability insurance, which you pay into out of your paycheck.

    Good luck, and don't hesitate to respond with additional questions.


    Rebecca V. Nellis
    VP, Programs & Strategy

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