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Topic: Looking for work with BC diagnosis

Forum: "Middle Age" 40-60(ish) Years Old With Breast Cancer —

Meet others in this age-range who share similar life issues.

Posted on: Dec 17, 2009 01:24PM

frosty1 wrote:

I became unemployed in November and diagnosed on 12/11 with DCIS.  I'm actively searching for a new job and have started interviews.  Anyone else out there interviewing and managing their diagnosis and treatment?  I'm most concerned about handling the treatment, which is at least 3-4 weeks out due to the holidays.

Dx 12/11/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 17, 2009 04:53PM cookiegal wrote:

Yeah frost, I just figure I will be out of full time work till I finish treatment in February. I don't know whether to tell people or not, my industry is pretty gossipy so I figure it won't stay a secret.

For now I am trying to pitch a low cost short consulting package.

You deserve a cookie!
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Dec 17, 2009 05:39PM konakat wrote:

I am looking for work and still on chemo.  It's hard to find a job and needing time off for chemo.  I made a mistake and mentioned needing time off (didn't say for what) when flex time was brought up.  I'm sure it didn't go in my favour! 

I'd keep on with the interviews and when an offer is on the table negotiate flextime or a later start date.  If don't think that is possible, depending on what your treatment is, you might have to consider waiting until most of it is over.

Elizabeth's Mantra: When in doubt, eat cake. When you haven't a clue, add ice cream. Elizabeth's Mets: Liver, bones, brain (yuck), and lungs (more yuck). Dx 5/2007, ILC, 3cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 13/19 nodes, mets, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Dec 27, 2009 10:10AM pitanga wrote:

Frost, you didnt mention what treatment you are doing. Since you are stage 0 DCIS, I assume surgery and rads? surgery can be couched in terms of a "prior commitment" and rads take so little time each day, you can schedule them early in the morning or in late afternoon. I would say NOTHING to potential employers. It´s your personal life and if you can organize the treatment to be outside of work hours, no reason to mention it.

I have a research grant at the moment but didnt when I got my stage 4 dx earlier this year. It was a tense period and I did NOT breathe a word of it to the funders. But my onc put me on hormonals rather than chemo and even with time lost in medical appointments I still produce enough to satisfy them (I am single with no kids, so no other demands on my time). The grant is only until August 2010 so I´m feeling the pressure already to scout around for other sources of income. I also teach part-time in a university study abroad program, and I did tell them because I needed time off for the mastectomy. They were very understanding. But I have worked for them for 2 years already and have proved myself already.

The obvious thing in a normal situation would be to look for a full-time professorship, but that entails -relocating, probably to another country, which brings up insurance issues. I´d much prefer another grant, but those are always short term and so I´d have to go through the wringer all over again.

I get tense just thinking about it.

When I was in my 20s and older people would suggest I get myself ensconced in a secure job, I used to think, How boring! I opted for the footloose and fancy free approach... it has been interesting, no doubt about it, but now I´m really paying the price.

Round 1-- 1999, age 39, Stage IIA. Round 2-- 2009, local recurrence and bone mets. Dx 2/5/2009, IDC, <1cm, Stage IV, Grade 2, mets, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Dec 27, 2009 12:57PM j414 wrote:

Frost,

With DCIS, it will probably be surgery and rads. I had a lumpectomy and rads and worked throughout - I didn't have to b/c I get a lot of vacation time, but I just always felt okay and didn't want to waste the days.  I took off 2 days after the lumpectomy, had some minor swelling, but otherwise felt fine. I didn't experience fatigue with rads, I was just tired b/c I'm not a morning person and I had to get up 6:30 a.m., 5 days a week, to make my 8:00 am appointment (my normal schedule was getting up around 8:30-9:00 and rolling into work 10-10:30, it was a big adjustment). Rads only takes about a minute - literally, it's two 20-30 second x-rays. Once I was there, I was in and out within 15 minutes and then would go straight to my office. My only rads SE was some red skin and itching, similar to a sunburn. 

I told no one and no one suspected. Around the time that I was diagnosed I was thinking about moving to another firm and word travels fast.  I feel fine, look fine and didn't and don't want to unnecessarily raise red flags. Generally, a prospective employer can't ask about an applicant's health (below is a link which outlines what a prospective employer can/can't do/ask). It's a tough job market and quite frankly if a prospective employer feels that you may be taking off a lot of time early on, it won't bode well.  I agree with elizabeth, once an offer is on the table, try to negotiate flex time to accomodate your rads schedule.  

ttp://www.ada.gov/q%26aeng02.htm

Dx 4/2009, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 28, 2009 06:22PM frosty1 wrote:

Thanks for the words of encouragement!  It is hard enough dealing with the concept of BC and the mindspin you go into when you are laid off.  I had another biopsy on Christmas Eve.  More DCIS.  Unfortunately it is so far from the first site, the doctor (who is very conservative when it comes to surgery) is recommending a mastectomy.  So no radiation.  But a longer recovery time.  Now I just need to get it scheduled so I can recover and continue looking for work.  I'm still sending out resumes and networking.  I'm not telling a lot of people because I don't want it to get out before I land a spot. 

Dx 12/11/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 2, 2010 03:47PM Flmgkat wrote:

Am pretty much new here; I was laid off back in February of 09, decided to go back to school on worker retraining program (still looking for work, mind you) and was dx with BC in November. After biospy, discovered that I needed a mastectomy, which was done during the Christmas week.  And believe it or not, got two calls for interviews (and where were these people when I wasn't sick? LOL).

I am taking the quarter off while laying down and rethinking everything that I was planning on, but every now and then, I get into a funk and wonder what is next? Am in the middle of trying to find out financial resources, even tho it will put me in the hand to mouth mode, it's better than no mode at all, I suppose.

 

One never knows.....do one? Dx 11/11/2009, IDC, 6cm+, Stage II, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 2, 2010 04:41PM Diana63 wrote:

I am looking for work also, I think I might go back to school and get my NAC certificate. I tried to get office work but jobs are hard to come by umless you know someone that knows someone. I worked all the way through chemo but then got layed off.    :)

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Dx 10/6/2007, IDC, 5cm, Stage IV, Grade 3, 4/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 14, 2010 08:07AM frosty1 wrote:

So had my surgery on Monday (no reconstruction, just the mastectomy).  Home Tuesday morning.  Phone interview on Wednesday.  Face to face interview on Friday.  Now trying to figure out what to wear that will go over the drains and not look too weird. 

Dx 12/11/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 14, 2010 08:19AM tkone wrote:

Hi Frosty1

Good luck with the interview.  I am unemployed as well, but have completed all of my treatment, but still think that it is something I won't mention to any prospective employers.  I think with all of the qualified candidates out there, there's no reason to give them any reason to not look at me.  By the way, I am in Maple Valley and there is a Crazy, Sexy, Cancer in Seattle thread where there are lots of other Puget Sounders.  We'd love to have you join us.

Lucky that it is winter and you can get away with something big and bulky for attire!

Tracy

Tracy tracy-breastcancerandme.blogsp... Dx 5/7/2008, IDC, 2cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 14, 2010 08:45AM frosty1 wrote:

I've also been very careful about who I have told about my diagnosis. Most of my friends are in the same profession and I'm networking with them to find a new job ... makes it tough.

I will look for the crazy thread ... it would be great to have some local connections.

Dx 12/11/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Jan 14, 2010 08:50AM j414 wrote:

Frosty, good luck with the interview! 

Dx 4/2009, <1cm, Stage I, Grade 1, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jan 18, 2010 08:56PM Flmgkat wrote:

Great to find this thread....I am heading for an interview Tuesday; after my doc's appointment, I read my emails and found that a ad that I answered back in November had contacted me and wants people for a 8 month contract.  Yeh, of course I am going!  and I am definitely going thru the underwear drawer to make myself a little presentable, as I am still healing from the mastectomy about a month ago..

Where were these people before my dx'd? LOL

FlamingKat

One never knows.....do one? Dx 11/11/2009, IDC, 6cm+, Stage II, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Jan 19, 2010 07:18AM frosty1 wrote:

The hardest part was finding something that would make my drains not so obvious and not show the dent on the left side.  I felt very self-conscious.  But it felt good to get pulled together and presentable ... and you are so right -- where were these people?

Dx 12/11/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Mar 8, 2010 08:57AM Flmgkat wrote:

hello all...

Well, this past Friday nite, I received a phone call from one of my job prospects(part time position) and went thru I guess was a phone interview.  It was a nice conversation....until I mention my treatments for cancer. I told the interviewer that I have been going thru treatments since January, and just had to be honest about the current situation. He sounded a bit sympathic and "well, let me go thru with this with the boss and I will call you back". 

Here is my question.....was I quick on the draw about mentioning the cancer treatment?

One never knows.....do one? Dx 11/11/2009, IDC, 6cm+, Stage II, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Mar 20, 2010 06:44PM LeftVegasJudy wrote:

to survivors looking for work:

Have you had to come up with explanations about that "gap" in your work history? And have you had to explore job prospects during cancer recovery, in a new community you have just moved into, during the worst economic crises in our lives?

My treatment ended  nearly a year ago (lumpectomy in 7/08, chemo from 8/08 through 1/08, then radiation through 3/09). Once the fatigue of radiation passed, after about two months, I was ready to hit the job market. But, I still didn't have many acqaintences in the area, and all my job history was from out West. The only work I have had since was as Christmas help in one of the local  stores, and they laid off their seasonal people on New Years. I'm not eligible for unemplyment, either.

It depends on the interviewer, if I reveal my cancer treatment or not. An interviwer cannot ask you about your health. But I have to tell them what I was doing to some extent since spring 2008, so I  say something like "seeking medical treatment, moving, volunteering". And, some of the only local references I know are people in the survivor community. I would rather not hide tha fact that I have cancer and am a survivor. 

For working age people, cancer surviviorship should not be an issue in hiring and continuing to contribute to the workforce.

Dx 5/22/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, 0/4 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Mar 21, 2010 09:21AM frosty1 wrote:

I strongly recommend NOT sharing your cancer treatmetns or diagnosis during any part of the interview process.  If you are not available, just say "I'm not available at that time" and they will reschedule.  That is the quickest way out ... even tho it may not be totally legal, they will find other things about your background to make it fit.  As for gaps, some people don't even ask.  If they do, you can give a non-answer:  "took some time off to move and volunteer and work through a medical issue.  I'm fully recuperated and looking forward to full time work."

I did land a job after 4 months off -- started this past Monday.  I waited until I received and accepted the verbal offer and then I called my new boss and explained my chemo start to her.  I figured how she answered would be a good clue as to whether I wanted to work with her or not.  She was gracious and open.  Love my new spot!

Good luck to you!

Dx 12/11/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+
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Mar 25, 2010 02:10PM Flmgkat wrote:

@frosty1:

thanks for the advice...I've gotten another interview next week and am praticing on what to say.  I've been unemployed for a good year now and am feeling a bit discouraged; I didn't expect to be out of work for so long and having all this happening to me at once.

One never knows.....do one? Dx 11/11/2009, IDC, 6cm+, Stage II, Grade 2, 0/1 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Mar 25, 2010 07:57PM frosty1 wrote:

I understand completely.  I was laid off in November and in December was diagnosed -- no symptoms, no lump, no family history, no health issues.  BOOM!

Remember the less said the better.  You don't have to justify anything.  You took some time off to volunteer and move and are now ready to commit to a new position.  Done.  People get in trouble when they feel they need to say more (i'm in human resources and have interviewed people for jobs and for investigations for years, so I see how it works).

Best of luck to you.  And I know this sounds trite, and I hate it when people say it to be, but if this is the job that is meant for you, it will happen!

Dx 12/11/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 2, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+

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