Hello - How do I go back to work after taking off 3 years to recover from stage 3 breast cancer?

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sandogger
sandogger Member Posts: 2
I had to take off just about three years due to cancer and aggressive treatment for it. Due to complications from radiation, my reconstruction surgery has been very drawn out. I just had my seventh surgery (and last) at the end of February 2011, and am now preparing to search for a new job. I know that discrimination is illegal but I have anxiety about the gap on my resume.

Has anyone else been through something similar and how did you get back to work?

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  • New Flower
    New Flower Member Posts: 4,294
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    Welcome to the board
    Sorry for having difficult time with treatment. My diagnosis also was stage IIIC. I have had 4 surgeries and took 1 year off. I was able to find a new job with 1 year gap at the same level. I have never mentioned my illness during interview process or when got a job. I have not disclosed it to my new employer and believe it is right for my job situation. You need to have a story why you have not worked. With the state of economy it is not unusual. Maybe something like "family situation" will work" for you. We have had discussion on similar topic on "Long-term survivors" please take a look http://csn.cancer.org/node/206178As you go through interview process you will learn from your experience and make adjustments to your story. Your recovery and willingness to return to workforce is a great accomplishment and very remarkable.
    Please let us know. You can PM me with specific questions.
    Good luck,
    New Flower
  • KathiM
    KathiM Member Posts: 8,028 Member
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    Welcome to the board
    Sorry for having difficult time with treatment. My diagnosis also was stage IIIC. I have had 4 surgeries and took 1 year off. I was able to find a new job with 1 year gap at the same level. I have never mentioned my illness during interview process or when got a job. I have not disclosed it to my new employer and believe it is right for my job situation. You need to have a story why you have not worked. With the state of economy it is not unusual. Maybe something like "family situation" will work" for you. We have had discussion on similar topic on "Long-term survivors" please take a look http://csn.cancer.org/node/206178As you go through interview process you will learn from your experience and make adjustments to your story. Your recovery and willingness to return to workforce is a great accomplishment and very remarkable.
    Please let us know. You can PM me with specific questions.
    Good luck,
    New Flower

    Welcome! And I agree....
    With New Flower...

    Do IBS sufferers share that with a perspective employer? Or migraine sufferers? Both of these will result in 'sick days' off...nope, my advice is not to share...come up with a story that is partly the truth...just not all of it. I like the 'family situation'...they are not allowed to delve further. Or, and this relates to me....I've been self-employed for the past 19 years.

    Yes, it's a bit deceptive. But many employers will not hire because of health issues, as well. That is also illegal.

    And, if checking your references, make sure THEY also don't 'spill the beans'....past employers are held to sharing only employment-related performance...you could be nice about it, but I would contact (first by phone, or e-mail...and document the date and time and who you spoke with) your last employer's HR (if you were in treatment during your employment there) and say in a very friendly voice "I am seeking new employment, and I just wanted to let you know. I realize that, legally, you only need to answer 2 questions: "Was she employed by you, and for how long?" and "Would you rehire her?". I would appreciate it if you only answer those 2 questions". (It will serve to give them notice that anything more, and you will be persuing their misbehavior).

    Hugs for a brave new beginning! Kathi
  • disneyfan2008
    disneyfan2008 Member Posts: 6,583 Member
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    KathiM said:

    Welcome! And I agree....
    With New Flower...

    Do IBS sufferers share that with a perspective employer? Or migraine sufferers? Both of these will result in 'sick days' off...nope, my advice is not to share...come up with a story that is partly the truth...just not all of it. I like the 'family situation'...they are not allowed to delve further. Or, and this relates to me....I've been self-employed for the past 19 years.

    Yes, it's a bit deceptive. But many employers will not hire because of health issues, as well. That is also illegal.

    And, if checking your references, make sure THEY also don't 'spill the beans'....past employers are held to sharing only employment-related performance...you could be nice about it, but I would contact (first by phone, or e-mail...and document the date and time and who you spoke with) your last employer's HR (if you were in treatment during your employment there) and say in a very friendly voice "I am seeking new employment, and I just wanted to let you know. I realize that, legally, you only need to answer 2 questions: "Was she employed by you, and for how long?" and "Would you rehire her?". I would appreciate it if you only answer those 2 questions". (It will serve to give them notice that anything more, and you will be persuing their misbehavior).

    Hugs for a brave new beginning! Kathi

    i think i agree
    dont' put any red flags out there for them to panic...if you made it through all you have in personal life you can do any job I am sure..

    Could be just needed to spend time with family & now time to return to work..

    Discrimination not allowed but does happen as well all know..



    I found out my job after 7 yrs at my job...At first when they heard BC do whatever you must..then after surgery I started radiation..3 days into it I was called in the office and said we can't justify paying someone to cover your hour daily-you must use your sick days! I WILL Never get over that..

    GOOD LUCK IN your job hunt.. KEEP us updated...

    Denise
  • New Flower
    New Flower Member Posts: 4,294
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    KathiM said:

    Welcome! And I agree....
    With New Flower...

    Do IBS sufferers share that with a perspective employer? Or migraine sufferers? Both of these will result in 'sick days' off...nope, my advice is not to share...come up with a story that is partly the truth...just not all of it. I like the 'family situation'...they are not allowed to delve further. Or, and this relates to me....I've been self-employed for the past 19 years.

    Yes, it's a bit deceptive. But many employers will not hire because of health issues, as well. That is also illegal.

    And, if checking your references, make sure THEY also don't 'spill the beans'....past employers are held to sharing only employment-related performance...you could be nice about it, but I would contact (first by phone, or e-mail...and document the date and time and who you spoke with) your last employer's HR (if you were in treatment during your employment there) and say in a very friendly voice "I am seeking new employment, and I just wanted to let you know. I realize that, legally, you only need to answer 2 questions: "Was she employed by you, and for how long?" and "Would you rehire her?". I would appreciate it if you only answer those 2 questions". (It will serve to give them notice that anything more, and you will be persuing their misbehavior).

    Hugs for a brave new beginning! Kathi

    Kathi Excellent Points
    In fact, I did contact my previous employer during references check time. I did let HR know that I applied for a job and expected them to follow the law. Thanks,very important points which I forgot. We always can blame Chemo brain.
    Good luck
  • disneyfan2008
    disneyfan2008 Member Posts: 6,583 Member
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    Kathi Excellent Points
    In fact, I did contact my previous employer during references check time. I did let HR know that I applied for a job and expected them to follow the law. Thanks,very important points which I forgot. We always can blame Chemo brain.
    Good luck

    Very good...@new flower
    How did your HR respond?

    I was written up in annual review for abusing sick time (i had 30 days left and sick bank) no verbal or written prior..everything mine did was wrong...I KNOW better know...

    I did go to Support Group in ref: rights at work place and employers responsiblities...

    sadly ALL IN hind sight...but i'll know for future if needed..
  • laughs_a_lot
    laughs_a_lot Member Posts: 1,368 Member
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    working
    I am assuming you are a woman. Since women generally have the role of caring for sick family members while they recover from thier health problems it could be used as the excuse that would be Oh so true. They just don't need to know the family member you were assisting to recover was yourself. Also this economy though difficult has also given us another good excuse for not being in the job market.