Spyros L. on July 14, 2019
My name is Spyros. I am extremely fortunate to have recovered from Lymphoma CNS. I had not worked from Feb. 2017 to May 2018. Surgery, then chemo started in July 2017 until May 2018. I have been an IT project manager contractor for approximately 15 years. My projects have typically been enterprise-wide, global type of projects. But since my return to work, while I have been hired for short term assignments, my workload has been extremely little - virtually nothing to do, day after day. I have never revealed my illness history, nor has anyone asked. If you look you can see the scar on my left forehead and back, but no one has ever mentioned it. This question may not belong here, and I apologize if so. But I cannot seem to understand why, after having large and pressure-filled projects for years, is hired and given nothing or very little to do. This includes 3 assignments since May 2018. Thank you - Spyro
Nicole Franklin, MPH
Aug 8, 2019
Cancer and Careers Staff Comment:
Thanks for writing to us. Congratulations on your recovery and feeling well enough to return to work! I’m sorry to hear you’ve experienced a downward shift in tasks and responsibilities upon your return to work. I’ve reached out to our coaches to get their insight on your situation, but wanted to mention that although it’s frustrating, it seems hard to determine whether the decrease in your workload is due to the ebbs and flows of available assignment types or if there’s been a change in their perception of your abilities after taking extended leave from work. Even though you didn’t disclose your medical condition as your reason for taking time off, unfortunately an employment gap can sometimes serve as a red flag to employers.
While at some point you might consider having a conversation to find out why your assignments have changed and express your interest in obtaining more of those enterprise-wide, large projects, it’s essential remember that in general you are under no legal obligation to disclose your medical history and/or any medical conditions to your prospective or current employer. For more information on that, I would recommend watching our webinar: For more information on disclosure, I recommend watching our webinar: https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/community/videos/bwc/2017-webinar-online.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or 646-929-8032.
A coach will be in touch soon!
Nicole Franklin, MPH
Senior Manager of Programs
Cancer and Careers
Aug 17, 2019
Career Coach Comment:
I’m glad to hear that you seem to be recovering well after your bout with cancer.
From reading your question, I gather that you are a self-employed IT project manager. If this is the case, you are very similar to me. For many years I was s self-employed organization effectiveness consultant. While my Thyroid Cancer surgery and subsequent treatment didn’t keep me out of action for as long as your treatment did, I learned a difficult truth about being self-employed: out of sight, out of mind. I found that during my recovery, my clients needed the kind of services I provided, and when I was unavailable, they found others who could do the work.
In many ways this seemed to be unfair, losing clients because of my illness, but that’s what happened. At first, I was frustrated and felt sorry for myself. Then I decided that inaction wasn’t going to help me get clients. So, I decided to focus on marketing my services. In a way, this felt like starting over, but it is what I had to do to rebuild my business. I suggest that you use the time where you have no paying work to focus on marketing.
LinkedIn is a great place to start. Keep building your contact list. But also, write and post articles on IT project management. This will help reestablish your credibility in the field. You may also want to consider starting a blog.
I know that it is frustrating to have to rebuild a business from scratch, especially when you’ve been successful in the past, but that’s the way forward. I did it, and so can you. My best advice is to keep your head up and work on marketing your business. Use the downtime as a gift to better position yourself in the marketplace.
Best of luck,
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