Jill M. on January 23, 2013
I have to have surgery mid-Feb and will not be able to work as a part-time ski instructor for the rest of the season. I do love to ski and teach and am having a very hard time saying good bye to my job, but I do want to be honest with my employer in order to have the door open to me again next winter. This is my second season working for this ski resort; I have worked in other departments including ski patrol for the last 11 at this same resort. Do I call out my illness by name? Or simply say the facts: surgery date and recovery time and offer to keep them posted on my recovery? My small town can't do the procedure, so I will have to travel and be out of town for a week. Thanks.
Jan 23, 2013
Career Coach Comment:
I’m sorry to hear about the timing of your surgery – right in
the middle of the ski season. Based on
the information you have provided, it sounds as though you may have a good
relationship with your employer. Is that
right? What is the culture of the
organization? Are they
compassionate? Supportive? Do you have a warm friendly relationship with
your boss? Or, do you expect them to
react that your illness is very inconvenient to them?
The answer to these questions is your guideline as to how
much you should share. If you don’t know
for sure, just test the waters. Inform
them that you must go for surgery with xx weeks of recovery. That this is not elective surgery but
potentially life threatening. Tell them
how “bummed out” you are at having to leave during your most enjoyable time of
year. That you hate to miss all the
action. If you get immediate compassion,
you can opt to share more. You want to
be cautious because some people get scared of the “cancer” word and assume it means
disability, incapacity and death. That’s
not the current reality with all the leading edge treatments today. Personally, I continue to beat the odds and
enjoy a good quality of life.
Sometimes revealing more than is necessary is
counter-productive to everyone. Instead,
re-assure them that you will be ready and fit for next season. Stay in touch during your recuperation. If you can, stop by for a brief visit. Follow up off season to assure your spot for
By the way, since you will be getting treatment out-of-town,
know that there are some lodging options for your family provided by the
American Cancer Society and other such non-profits. Hope Lodge is free to cancer patients and
there are other housing options also.
I hope this is helpful to you and good luck in your
recuperation post surgery.
Jan 26, 2013
Career Coach Comment:
First of all you have my best wishes for a successful surgery and recuperation.
You are right when you say you want to be honest with your employer –this can be the best way to ensure that they will be likely to hire you again next winter. It is important to remember that being honest doesn’t necessarily mean a full disclosure, as Margot suggests.
I found that people were very supportive when I told them I was having cancer surgery. I bet you will too. My personal experience taught me that calling cancer by its name, not an “illness”, gave me power over it. I felt that I was in charge, not the cancer.
Of course, this is up to you. Whether or not you tell your employer that you are having cancer surgery is your choice. Regardless, as you have suggested, it is best to be as open and honest with your employer about your need for some time off this winter.
Since you have worked at the same resort for 11 years, I assume you have a good relationship with the people who run it. Therefore, I see no problem with telling your employer that you are going to have cancer surgery. Then do exactly as you suggest – share with them the surgery date and recovery time. Offer to keep them posted on your recovery.
I would also suggest that you check out some of the Cancer and Careers information on sharing your diagnosis and legal issues around disclosure to help inform your decision.
Best of luck to you. I’ll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.
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