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Return to Work Problems: Disability & FMLA

Folks24
Posts: 104
Joined: Feb 2007

I am presently trying to work with my oncologist and my work company on a time BOTH can agree when I can go back to work. As of now, I am taking spinal shots (which is my last treatment circuit - PET was clear) until December that land me in the pain clinic at times.

Company policy is 26 weeks disability. HOWEVER, the first 12 weeks are paid FMLA and the finaly 14 weeks are paid short term disability. Have you ever heard of anyone getting through their cancer / lymphoma treatments in 12 weeks? I wasn't told FMLA was concurrent initially [and boy I asked everything prior to leave]. Is this normal policy?? This has stressed me out to no end, etc.
My oncologist is emphatic that I NOT go back to work until December. I had a bad haul with the chemo treatment symptoms "though no surgery or radiation but had hospitalization, etc." My oncologist is concerned and wants to be very careful with me. She will not sign off until my entire treatments are completed.

According to my company, I am due to come back to work NEXT WEEK. They are having a meeting today to decide if they will/can hold my job for me for another 2 wks. So I am put in the position or relying on the company's "goodwill".

Anyone else get stuck between a rock and a hard place in trying to come back to work?

allmost60's picture
allmost60
Posts: 3176
Joined: Jul 2010

Hi Folks,
It just makes me angry when I hear stuff like this! The last thing you need is added stress worrying about your job. Employers need to realize that recovery from chemo takes time, and show some compassion. I'm so sorry you are going through this. let us know what happens. I'll keep you in my prayers. Love....Sue

KatMat
Posts: 62
Joined: Jul 2012

My employer told me the other day I can "petition" for an extension once my FMLA runs out. Maybe you can have your doctor write a letter setting forth your continued need for leave. I hope they would work with you but I do know some employers don't show any compassion or care at all. Good luck!

Honestly I think this country's FMLA policy is a joke, especially for dealing with major health issues.

KatMat
Posts: 62
Joined: Jul 2012

My employer told me the other day I can "petition" for an extension once my FMLA runs out. Maybe you can have your doctor write a letter setting forth your continued need for leave. I hope they would work with you but I do know some employers don't show any compassion or care at all. Good luck!

Honestly I think this country's FMLA policy is a joke, especially for dealing with major health issues.

po18guy
Posts: 245
Joined: Nov 2011

After 30 years, the municipality for which I worked threatened to terminate me if I did not return to work. I had taken several months off, as my co-workers had donated sick leave to me. They were still ready to donate more when "HR" (I was more a resource than I was human to them) cut it off. I asked for light duty and was approved. Doctor authorized 20 hours per week. The city said that light duty was 40 hours per week. Huh? After some back and forth, I was good for 20 hours. Over the next few months, I increased that to 32 hours per week. The last week of May, 2010, I was given one week notice of termination. I managed to talk them into one more month and I retired. I consulted a labor attorney who advised that it was "legal" for them to do that. Sadly, I found out that once you demonstrate a defect, you are considered damaged goods and their efforts are to dispose of you. I was not offered any other position. Back in the 1980s, we used to have a "Personnel" department. At some point, that all changed to "Human Resources". I note that before, I was a considered a person, whereas after the change, I was only a "resource." I pulled the pin and bailed out, and have never looked back. I was worried about losing 40% of my pay, plus all medical and dental, but I have been taken care of via SS and Medicare. My worries were over nothing. I hope that you have a better experience, but don't be afraid to take the leap of faith, if that is what it comes down to.

vinny59's picture
vinny59
Posts: 1030
Joined: Nov 2006

I was in the same boat, luckily the owner had a heart and let me have the extra weeks. The problem was my blood counts, the chemo wiped them out, I was susceptible to catching colds which would turn into something more serious. I always thought that the company did not have to offer you your orginal job back, but could not fire you for your illness. I would talk to a labor attorney, or at least research this on line.....Good luck Vinny

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1216
Joined: May 2012

Folks,

I would say your experience is about npormal. My neighbor got NHL and was out a year in very serious condition. He went to return to work at a corporation where he had been the senior IT guy for 19 years, and they told him "Your position no longer exists." Not fired, not replaced. Just "Your position no longer exists, and, no, we have nothing else for you above introductory level."

When I tried to return to work in 2010 following chemo I was stonewalled and eventually just gave up. It was clear they wanted me gone, and the state where I live is "right to work," and the employment agencies all told me "tough luck," and that I had no legal recourse.

In 1987, following about a year out following a severe injury and rehab, same thing. When I attempted to return the response was, in effect, "Who are you?"

So, yes, I have had exacty your situation, twice.

max

.

Aaron's picture
Aaron
Posts: 241
Joined: Jun 2012

Did you just change careers after chemo? I'm trying to figure out what to do after treatment. Hope all is well max

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1216
Joined: May 2012

Aaron,

I changed careers after my severe auto crash injuries in 1986. I had been doing field engineering work on submarine weapons systems, but after 18 broken bones and having to re-learn how to walk, I could no longer crawl around on submarines. I went back to grad school and became a teacher briefly, and then got the cancer. I have been so weak since then that I can hardly do anythng, and have mostly just piddled with low paying stuff part time. Most people have no idea how extremely taxing teaching kids is. It was about the physically most demanding jopbs I ever had. This winter is already tearing me and my breathing up, and I may just totally quit everything soon. My lung damage is much worse any time the temp goes below 60 degrees or so, and when it gets much colder than that, I cannot go outside at all for more than a few minutes. Thankfully, my wife is a professional in a stable career, with insurance.

The key was my lung damage from the bleomycine. If I had not had that, I would be OK today, most likely. Around 90% do NOT get the lung problems, and you have avoided it, so the future should be relatively flexible for yo at your age, I would think and hope. Get well soon !

max

,

Aaron's picture
Aaron
Posts: 241
Joined: Jun 2012

Ufortunaty it looks like I've got some level of lung damage. After seeing my lung function test from a few weeks ago my doc is suspending the bleo for at least one treatment. We are surely both very fortunate to have wives with good careers and insurance. Well Max, I'm 2/3rds of the way through treatment and I'm off to get a pet scan today so I will keep y'all posted. Have a great thanksgiving and be well my friend. Aaron

Max Former Hodgkins Stage 3's picture
Max Former Hodg...
Posts: 1216
Joined: May 2012

Bless yo and yours, dude.

I know that PET wil show CR !

max

GKH
Posts: 326
Joined: Jul 2012

I know this story well. I started with surgery for a lump in my shoulder which turned out not to be cancer. However cancer was discovered coincidentally in MRI scans. I was a fairly highly paid manager at a communications company. I was urged to go onto FMLA for 12 weeks then we would decide when to come back. Well my CEO retired before the 12 weeks were up and exactly on the 12th week anniversary I received a letter saying due to business conditions they could not hold my job and I had been terminated. I went on short term which I had to fight for as I went through major surgery to remove a retroperitoneal lymph node on my aorta. The optional long tyerm which I had paid a lot for ($81 every 2 weeks for 9 years) was denied. I fought and got it back. Like clock work it has been withheld every 3-4 months and I have to fight to get it back. It has now stopped again and the fight is just about out of me. I feel bad, have severe leg pains and fatigue. I am turning it over to an attorney and trying to put it out of my mind. Unfortunately I would say collecting, especially on long-term disability, will be a struggle. But heck it will give you something to do. Expect them to mness with your Drs. head too. Most Doctors have no time for such things. My best advice is keep notes and save every scrap of paper. Log all phone calls. Good luck.

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