Be the Boss Over Cancer

Hi, I'm just finishing college, and I am 4 years out of treatment. 

I am currently struggling to find work (as is the current job climate) and I am wondering if playing the cancer card will raise or lower my chances. 

For example, I have a  fairly low gpa and maybe mentioning my past would make me a stronger candidate? 

Alternatively maybe this will concern the employer about paying off health care costs ect..

(yes I know this sounds bad)

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  • Rebecca Nellis

    Rebecca Nellis on Jan 22, 2014

    Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for writing. Your question is a common one and ultimately the decision to discuss or not discuss your cancer experience is totally up to you. My first question for you is what kind of job are you looking for or sector are you interested in working in?  Many jobs/industries do not expect to see a GPA on your resume and are much more focused on just whether you completed a degree or not and what kinds of experience do you have.  If you aren't sure what you want to do, informational meetings with people who have interesting sounding jobs or work in areas you might be curious about can offer a great way in that allows you to meet someone face-to-face. And, if they like you they might help you network into an opportunity. If you are worried that your resume is light on experience you could consider an internship. Volunteer work can also be included on your resume. If you know your passion for example is web development, perhaps an additional certificate in that area would help to strengthen your resume. 

    My general advice about disclosure is that you don't want to do it in a cover letter or in a first interview as both of those opportunities are really designed to get you to the next phase of the hiring process so your focus should be on setting yourself apart to do that, however there are certainly some people who do choose to use it as an asset or as an explanation. The thing to keep in mind is that once it is on the table it can't get put away and so you have to be sure you want it to be part of how someone is assessing you for the job. 

    Some info and tools that may be of use as you plan your job search and think this through:

    We also have two webinars later this year focused on job search (more info: and a free resume review service ( In addition, we have several in person events that you could attend, more details:

    Don't hesitate to write me back with additional questions, I am happy to help!

    Good luck,

    Rebecca V. Nellis
    VP, Programs and Strategy

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