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My brain after chemo - and returning to work

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

'Your Brain After Chemo' by Dan Silverman, MD, PhD is a God-send. The worst side effect of all of this for me has been brain fog aka 'chemo brain' that my doctors and family don't give much credit to. But I know that it has been very, very real for me and the primary reason that I haven't returned to work. I don't feel like I'm sharp like I used to be and I'm definitely not at the top of my game.

It's gotten MUCH better since treatment ended in January of this year but remains annoying beyond words . . .just not crippling like it used to be. I have recently begun interviewing for jobs again and I can't think quickly when confronted with: "Tell us about a previous missed opportunity and what you learned from it." UGH!!!!

Another dilemma is whether or not to even mention my cancer in interviews. I was fired (for the first time in my LIFE) two days after I was diagnosed with cancer.) It's a small city of 100,000 and I feel like I need to tell the truth to potential employers . . .but I don't feel that bringing up my cancer is appropriate in interviews and it may work against me.

Good news? I've been called back for a second interview with a strong company in a coveted sales territory management position. Although, I don't remember what the hell I told them in the first interview 2 weeks ago, they must have liked it. Maybe I can wing it in this second one enough to get the job. :) :)

Which brings me back to the book mentioned above. I bought it yesterday and it truly validates what I am feeling. I wanted you all to know that it's out there as well as another one called 'After Cancer: A Guide to Your New Life' by Wendy Harpham, MD.

Angela

cph1127's picture
cph1127
Posts: 51
Joined: Jun 2011

I am happy for you and wish you the best. How could they not like you? Anyone who has been through what you have is strong a would be an asset to their organization. Let's see if they are smart enough to realize it.

Would you tell them that you had any illness in an interview? I do not think that you should say anything.

Let us know how it turns out :0) Cindy

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

when my previous employer tells them I am not eligible for re-hire with them when they are checking work history, how do I explain that???

z's picture
z
Posts: 1250
Joined: May 2009

Your previous employer would not re hire you due to the cancer? If so, isn't that a violation of americans with disabilitys act. How can cancer be held against you? There must be privacy issues here, due to medical information. I would check into this asap, and if this company doesn't hire you due to cancer on a recall interview, then they might get in trouble for violating some labor law. I wish you well. Lori

cph1127's picture
cph1127
Posts: 51
Joined: Jun 2011

I'm curious...what was the reason they used to let you go? Do you work in a at will state?

Most companies today will not give any info on a past employee. You could also wait and see what they ask you in this 2nd interview and if it comes up as why you have not worked in the last couple of years, you can always say that you had some medical issues but they are now resolved and you are ready to get back to work.

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2819
Joined: Jan 2010

I would not bring up the cancer diagnosis and if they bring up any questions about health issues, I would be as vague as possible without sounding like you are hiding something. I don't believe employers can fire people because they have cancer and I seriously doubt that your previous employer is going to admit to a prospective employer that that's the reason you were fired. I think you'll do fine on the 2nd. interview and they would be crazy not to hire you! Good luck!

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 734
Joined: May 2011

Congratulations on your job search. I noticed just this week getting chemo that my language skills were impaired. I would switch consonants from one syllable of a word to another like a drunk or something only not with slurred speach. It was just amazing how word after word would come out from time to time within a single paragraph. It wasn't just now and again for a day or two. Luckily that passed and this pump comes off tomorrow but I will definitely be looking up this book. You had cancer come back didn't you and had to have more than the standard treatment protocol? It is so exciting that you have a job prospect but some of the "chemo brain" could be fatigue so don't worry about what others think and take this at your own pace as long as you can. I'll be thinking about you!

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

No, there has been no recurrence. I have been through one treatment and so far remain cancer free. The chemo brain symptoms are not fatigue related as I have been pretty much stress free and well rested for a few months.

I am just glad to have the validation that this book offers as well as a better understanding of brain function. This book also promotes a 9-step program to improve memory and focus.

I've always been such a career girl and enjoy the structure and mental stimulation that a day at work presents. I think I need to prove to myself that I still have my edge . . . I'm even taking practice college entry exams online aka 'jumping jacks for my brain.'

Thanks so much for all of your words of encouragement!

Angela

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

No, there has been no recurrence. I have been through one treatment and so far remain cancer free. The chemo brain symptoms are not fatigue related as I have been pretty much stress free and well rested for a few months.

I am just glad to have the validation that this book offers as well as a better understanding of brain function. This book also promotes a 9-step program to improve memory and focus.

I've always been such a career girl and enjoy the structure and mental stimulation that a day at work presents. I think I need to prove to myself that I still have my edge . . . I'm even taking practice college entry exams online aka 'jumping jacks for my brain.'

Thanks so much for all of your words of encouragement!

Angela

patacz
Posts: 64
Joined: Sep 2010

Hello Angela, a 2nd interview is a very good sign and I hope you get the job. It is wonderful that you are relaxed; stress is so bad for us. I am not married and just recently lost my job of 13 years. I'll have to start looking for work very soon and I am dreading it. It's so competitive out there, especially when you are not so young anymore. I have no idea what kind of questions they ask, but I hope to have your attitude and energy when I start my job search:-)

I am also a professional who have worked my entire life and love to learn new things, but I noticed I get overwhelmed easier since my treatment, I suspect is due to the Chemo, and sometimes have trouble remembering words that I don't use on a daily basis. Sometimes I feel I have it under control and my mind is back to normal, but it happens again. The book you recommended might help me, thank you.

Best of luck on your upcoming interview and may you find the perfect job.

May God bless you.

Pam

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 734
Joined: May 2011

Sounds like its time you took a break anyway. I have had the same problem with the chemo. I keep making up words that are an abbreviation of a sentence I was thinking i was going to say. It's really weird. I lost my big paycheck(s) in 2008 but stayed in same field and did well up until last year. Then I sprained my ankle in March and was diagnosed with cancer in May. So I told my Manager I may not be back until the first of next year. In the meantime I get to luxuriate in all kind of mental exercises about who I am and what it will be like to feel good again and work. It's been a long time. If I stay in my field, I think I will be very successful, more successful than I've ever been. But I have to recommit. My heart is not there right now and I need to honor that. It is one thing to be good at what you do. It's another to really love working at your job. But I haven't done my job in good health for quite a while. So I've felt the former in recent years, but not the latter. So maybe we both will have a greater healing than we even know yet. Good luck to you, All the best, Sandy

Captain11
Posts: 88
Joined: Apr 2011

Good luck with your next interview. I wouldn't say anything about your illness either. By the way, I also got terminated from my job, but that was because I am on long term disability and can't go back to it to perform my previous duties. Your employer may have committed discrimination against the people with disabilities act, so check into it. But, if it is like my former employer, they don't have to hire me back, because I cannot perform my previous duties and thereis no way to modify my job to the level I need it to be. I am very happy for you that you are able to return to work. Good luck. Keep us posted. God bless.

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

Thank you all for your words of encouragement. I decided to decline the second interview yesterday because I didn't feel good about the field. But I am being sent to Dallas tomorrow for a third interview with a large high-end retailer, jumping feet first into a retail management opportunity that I know little about . . . but am looking forward to the challenge.

It's going to be so nice to put on a skirt and heels for a change!

mp327's picture
mp327
Posts: 2819
Joined: Jan 2010

I wish you the very best with your interview, Angela! It sounds like a great opportunity!

Captain11
Posts: 88
Joined: Apr 2011

Good luck with your interview... Hope all is well with you. God bless.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 734
Joined: May 2011

Has anyone else had a lot of pain running down legs and into feet and back up? Of course I'm 20 years older than you which could have something to do with it.

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

Yes . . .and no. :) I am a little stiff with some leg and feet pain first thing in the morning. But once I take about 5 steps all is good.

Angela_K
Posts: 370
Joined: Jan 2011

Yes . . .and no. :) I am a little stiff with some leg and feet first thing in the morning. But once I take about 5 steps all is good.

sandysp's picture
sandysp
Posts: 734
Joined: May 2011

I have had what you describe since my early 40's. It is very difficult right now. My feet and legs are swollen from the treatments. Which aggravates this condition. I am so admiring your courage.. keep us posted
about the after (treatment) life.

cph1127's picture
cph1127
Posts: 51
Joined: Jun 2011

So how did the interview go in Dallas? I hope you felt great and that positive attitude came through. Let us know because we are all here for you. Cindy

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