Christina J. on June 9, 2022
I was diagnosed with Stage IIA Breast Cancer in 2019, and diagnosed with Metastatic Breast Cancer with metastases to the bone in late 2021. I am 33 years old, and have worked a salaried job at a fortune 500 tech company for ten years. I was doing well on my career path, and had received a promotion and job role growth once every two years. However, cancer has complicated managing my career. My diagnosis prognosis is not good. My oncologists (I have one main and one secondary) project my disease will progress in the next five years, with a projected life span of 10 years or less. This is derived from Seer data, known medical advances, and current clinical trials. Also, I have difficulty with fatigue about one week every month, to the point where I have had to excuse myself from work before the day is over. I will be on this treatment plan or similar treatment plans until my end of life. The combination of future uncertainty and fatigue side effects are the primary complications.
Although I am satisfied with my current job role, it is very clear that the expectation is that I would continue focusing on career growth, expanding my role, and looking for new opportunities or promotions. My first level manager is content give me accommodations, such as allowing me to take time off as needed for side effects or doctor appointments under ADA, and not requiring full FMLA paperwork to be filed. The pressure from my second level manager, however, is that not aiming for career growth is undesirable (direct quotation). I feel I cannot meet this expectation. Also, company and industry norms are that an employee is expected to work full time hours, and I cannot.
This is also complicated by the fact that in 2019, when I was diagnosed originally with breast cancer, my career was not very much impacted at all. I received treatment for about one quarter and was able to bounce back quickly afterwards. I don't think that bouncing back quickly is much of an option now, but people both at work and outside of work offer encouragement by reminding me that I recovered quickly before. An example of such encouragement is "You've bounced back quickly before, I know you'll do it again". This also causes stress by setting expectations that I feel are unreasonable.
I do not know if I should stay on my job and passively work, or look for a new job. I feel like a new job in tech is untenable, because the industry norms are to work full time and be very aggressive about career growth. But at the same time, I want a job where my skills and experience can be useful. I know the pressure from my second level manager is causing me stress. I have reviewed my companies internal open requisition, and I did not see even a single job that would accept a high level part time technical employee. I have also browsed externally, but saw similar lack of opportunities.
The three things I'm looking for are
I want a job that will use my current skills.
I want a job that can understand that I will be not be able to work a full eight hours every day.
I want a job that doesn't expect me to reach for promotion and job growth.
Please offer me some advice on how to manage my immediate career needs. Should I stay or go? If I stay, how do I manage the external expectation? If I go, how do I find a job that does not aggressively push growth and role expansion?
For what it’s work, my immediate manager and team do seem to value my current contributions. The pressure seems to be coming from my upper management and other coworkers and acquaintances.