Be the Boss Over Cancer

I am 51 years old and had brain tumor partially removed in 2011, was stable until May of 2013, just a couple weeks after I was layed off work.  My summer has been spent going through chemotherapy and radiation with minimal opportunity to land my next job.  My career is high level (VP of Marketing Insights), yet I acknowledge my memory skills are being impacted by tumor/treatments.  Doctors recommended applying for disability, I am already on unemployment, and am actively seeking high level opportunities.  How do I manage all of this and what should my expectations?  I could apply for lower level jobs, but who would hire me?  Main Question:  How can I best utilize this site to gain/retain solid income for my family?  Thanks.


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  • Sarah Goodell

    Sarah Goodell on Sep 18, 2013

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Kurt,

    Thanks for writing to us. I've sent your question over to one of our career coaches who will get back to you shortly.

    In terms of your question regarding how best to utilize the site, there are a few resources that come to mind. We have a couple of teleconferences coming up this fall that allow you to speak with experts directly and ask them any legal or practical questions that you have about your situation. I have listed them along with links to their registration pages below:

    Do you feel that you need any help tweaking your resume? If so, we have a free Resume Review service for survivors that may be of help. You can submit your resume here:

    Just in case you haven't looked around the website, we also have a ton of information on returning to the workplace and job search under our Looking for Work section here:

    I hope that this is helpful. Please let us know if you have any other questions and our coach will be in touch soon.

    Best regards,

    Sarah, Cancer and Careers Program Coordinator

  • Margot Larson

    Margot Larson on Sep 19, 2013

    Career Coach Comment:

    Kurt -

    I just came across your Post.  While you are considering the type of job you may want at this point in your life, I suggest you investigate your options with SS Disability.  I did so a few years back and because of my prognosis and I was approved very quickly.  Since you indicted that you had a high level position, your SSD benefit could potentially be significantly higher than your SS benefits at age 66.  In addition to your SSD benefits, you are allowed to earn some $$.  Ask to receive a current SS statement so you can check on the amount of your monthly disability eligibility. Also check on the internet as to how much you can earn each year without impacting your disability payments before you apply for Disability. Keep in mind that once you are on SSD for 30 months, you may qualify for Medicare coverage.

    I too have recurring brain mets (with advanced lung cancer).  I am concerned about how the treatments and tumors affect my memory and alertness.  Luckily, so far, it's been temporary. Your Chemo and side effects such as fatigue will contribute to what we refer to as "chemo brain".  Some of it clears up post treatment; some of it does not.  Everyone is different.

    If you find that your cognitive skills clear up, then you should be employable.  You want to be in shape before you apply for any position that might be demanding or stressful.  

    Consider whether it might make sense for you to work as a self-employed Consultant.  If you are self employed, you report only your net income i.e. Income minus Expenses. So your earnings restrictions are easier to manage.  If you are an employee, then you are more restricted in your earning capability.  Being self-employed would also provide you with more flexibility in your work schedule.

    I hope some of this information is helpful.


  • Kurt B.

    Kurt B. on Sep 19, 2013

    Thank you Sarah & Margot - I have filed for Cigna and SS Disability and awaiting the outcome.  Currently on unemployment.  I am not sure of the payments that would be made from either, believe Cigna tries to get out of disability if I get funds from SSD.  That is great that you were approved quickly Margot, in process now, a quick turn would be great.  What determines SSD payments?  Is it standard?      

     - Kurt

  • Margot Larson

    Margot Larson on Sep 19, 2013

    Career Coach Comment:

    Kurt -

    Your SSD is determined by what you have paid into the system and your latest income. It's individualized. That's why you should get a current copy of your SS Statement.  It lists what you are eligible to collect at age 62, age 66 and disability.  Disability is the highest of the paid benefits. You can now go online, create an account and view  your SS statement.  Here's a link

    I began collecting at age 62, and when I applied for SSD  a year late and was approved , it was $450 more per month than what I was collecting at age 62 and they made it retro-active to my date of diagnosis.  Approval is often tied to how thorough you were on your application and your doctor's feedback.  Any missing information and it lands in their pending file.  There is a list of some 40 or so diagnosis or conditions that qualify your for "compassionate consideration". Here's the link:

    Remember if you are denied, appeal.  Get a friend or hire an advocate to help you.  There are professional agencies in most states that will help you or hire a Patient Advocate consultant. Their knowledge of the system and their ability to move this forward will be a good return on the investment. I have done it more than once when dealing with my insurance company.


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