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Are we crazy?

vtvickil's picture
Posts: 18
Joined: Jul 2012

Hi Guys! 

We're not frequent posters on CSN but I do "lurk" and love the commaradie here!  We have a delima and I am hoping you guys can help. 

If you've followed us on ACOR/Smart Patients, you know my DH is a 3-year mRcc survivor and was on the Nivolumab + Votrient trial last year.  He had record results with the trial posting close to 70% reduction in just 2 months.  Unfortunately in month 3 he wound up with a wicked case of pneumonitis, didn't respond to the first round of steriods so got bumped up to mega dose.  That cured the pneumonitis, but made him immuno-suppressed which resulted in pneumonia and near death in January.  Thankfully a bold GP decided that the best chance of a cure was to ignore a possible allergy and give an antibiotic that no one else had been willing to prescribe.  Turns out DH was not allergic to the medication and responded with a full recovery.  Despite repeated pleas from oncologist, (Hammers), BMS decided DH was too risky for their trial so booted him off.  He had some tumor growth in the months off trial but is now back on the Votrient and is responding well - approximately 50% reduction reported in June scans.  DH has regained strength, feels great, looks great and is tolerating Votrient will with minimal SEs. 

So here's the crazy part.....DH has been contacted by a recruiter who is presenting him as a candidate for an incredible job half way across the country.  The position is a leadership role in a growing company.  Initial interviews have gone very well and it is looking increasingly likely that it could result in a substantial offer.  Are we nuts to consider this?  Are there legal risks of not disclosing his disease to the selection committee?  Are there clauses we should try to include in his contract if he is offered the position?  Both the company and the position are practically "dream jobs" for him but would likely be demanding of time and energy.  Its an exec role so not physically draining but not a 37.5 hour cush job either.  We've already reached out on SmartPatients for docs in the region so know there are RCC specialists there - what else should we be thinking about?  We are in a happy place now, thrilled for the opportunity but want to make a decision that is fair to both the employer and our family.  So appreciate the experience and support here helping us figure out where the pitfalls may be and whether or not this is something we should seriously consider or run from!

Thanks to all who are willing to weigh in!


Texas_wedge's picture
Posts: 2798
Joined: Nov 2011

Vicki, it's nice to have you paying a visit here and to hear how well Rick is doing.

This is a less intense forum isn't it, and full of a lot more fun than most similar forums?

Disclosure:  I'm English and even more remote from the Anglo-American legal system because I'm a Scots lawyer (a Civilian, Roman-Dutch system).  So I'm in no way qualified to advise on American federal or state laws.  My thoughts are, therefore, just those of a non-naive but non-expert person.

In the domain of insurance, the watchword is good faith - we describe contracts of insurance as being 'uberrimae fidei' (of the utmost good faith) where one is under a heavy burden to volunteer any information that could have a bearing on the contract.  My feeling is that it's generally accepted that there is not as heavy a burden in the situation you and Rick are in.  If he is asked specific questions about health and fitness, he must answer truthfully, of course.  However, to a significant extent, it's for the prospective emloyer to satisfy itself that it is making the right choice, so I don't think it's necessary for you to volunteer information that would prejudice the attractive offer that I hope is soon on the table. 

It would be a different matter if you thought it likely that Rick wouldn't be able to cut it.  However, if you don't think he'd be selling them a pup (do you have the same colloquialism Statesside?  perhaps you'd say sell them a bill of goods?) and that he should be able to cope with the work, then you would be treating the employer fairly enough, without running the risk that they might be missing the right man by being scared off.   Although cancer is now so depressingly widespread, there are many who don't understand its effects well enough.  Someone on a selection panel might have their opinion tipped the wrong way by a piece of information they're not equipped to evaluate and therefore decide to err on the side of caution.

With the disclaimer that I'm not qualified to give advice on your law, I'd say that if you and Rick feel he's able to cope with the job, you should go for it and not fall over yourselves to give more information than is sought from him.

I hope I'm not leading you astray.  We have American attorneys here who can speak with more authority - iceman comes to mind at once and he is a man of the highest conscience whose values I admire (but not his spelling!).  With luck you'll soon get better-informed opinions offered to you. 

I do so hope it works out as you'd wish - you deserve a good break after all you've both been through.

garym's picture
Posts: 1651
Joined: Nov 2009

Even if it isn't a legal issue I should think it would be a moral one.  Just my opinion, but starting a new relationship of any kind always works better when it begins with honesty.  A new employer should respect that, I know I would.

alice124's picture
Posts: 898
Joined: Mar 2012


Vicki- So great to hear you and Rick are doing so well. I had gone into Smart Patients and looked for you guys recently and came upon your dilemma. And have been wondering since that time if you had made any decisions.  Let me preface my remarks with the statement that this is my opinion only. I haven’t even spoken to John about it, and he may well have an entirely different opinion.


 My opinion is to be totally upfront and honest  with the selection committee about health issues. In this day of electronic medical records, I have to believe—even if you didn’t tell them—they would find out. The sharing that goes on between health insurance companies (life and health); hospitals; doctors; and pharmacies does not equate to medical privacy.  I also don’t favor the idea of you and Rick getting into a new job and new location and being consumed with worry  about some disclosure you didn’t make that may come back to haunt you. That would be more draining than the job itself. My familiarity with the corporate/business world has seen what can happen when even a trace of dishonesty is detected at the top; not pretty.


 Let Rick sell himself as is. He is a brilliant man with a lot to offer; he has nothing to apologize for. He has spit in the eye of death more than once and has the stories to tell about it. I feel fate has dealt him a difficult hand in recent years but he’s come out on top. If he’s going to start a new career, have him start it with a clean slate and his strong character in tow. If it doesn’t pan out, it wasn’t meant to be.


icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3334
Joined: Jan 2010

I am an attorney, but my areas of expertice do not include hands on experience with employment law. My understanding of employment law is that any heath questions not related to whether you can do the job are off limits. Can you get a clean bill of heath as far as being able to do the job from your present doctors. If so get it. The last part is the tricky part and that is voluntary disclosure. Maybe after you have been offered the job would be the point to sit down and talk about past issues. Just my thoughts.



GSRon's picture
Posts: 1304
Joined: Jan 2013

I wonder about insurance coverage. That is an important factor

vtvickil's picture
Posts: 18
Joined: Jul 2012

I knew this would be the right place to go!  Thank you all for taking the time to respond.  We too favor disclosure but not too early!  I especially like the idea of a statement of fitness from the Docs.  Not sure how eager they may be to provide one, but the way I see it they would simply be saying that Rick is fit to fullfill the duties of the job right now.  No promise of the future (and really - who could provide that anyway), no mention of he past.  The whole discussion will be a bit stange tho.  Guess you open it with a so....now that you want me, I need to tell you something....no easy way to start it but like ripping of the bandaid is simply has to be done. 

He's headed to Chicago for round 3 of the discussions next week.  Guess we'll see where this all takes us.  Its funny - after all the drama that surrounded our last move (he was diagnoses the day we moved) I am remarkably calm about this possibility of this one.  Guess if we made it through that one - we can make it through anything!!!

On a different, but related note, thanks to all of you for making this forum so relaxed and welcoming.  There are definitely times you need to "just the facts maam" approach found elsewhere but the longer we are on this road, the easier it is and its good to have others to walk and chat with.  Now if I could just remember to log in a bit more often ;-)

Alexandra's picture
Posts: 1309
Joined: Jul 2012

Hello Rick and Vicki,

I am neither an employment lawyer nor live in the States. Personally I would disclose the highlights of my medical history in writing to the potential employer's HR but only after having received the unconditional job offer. If everything works out fine - you got your dream job and you're known as an honest and transparent person. But if employer tries to terminate unfairly for any reason right away or during probation period, you have grounds for wrongful dismissal / human rights violation lawsuit.

You might want to talk to an actual legal expert. There is a "cancer" career and legal teleconference on July 25th http://csn.cancer.org/node/260489

BTW it is incredibly easy for anyone, including employers / recruiters to find out about medical history from "bread crumbs" (like first name, location, job title, oncologist's name, face picture, etc.) people leave on the internet. Especially when you're using the same user name on Twitter, eBay, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest and such. Unlike SmartPatients, CSN forums are tagged by google and not private.

icemantoo's picture
Posts: 3334
Joined: Jan 2010

Rick and Vicki,

It may  be that any offer is contingent on a physical. Disclosing everything after an offer, but before a physical, puts them in an awkward position of having to find objectively that can not do the work.

Find out as much as possible about their corporate culture. Ask for a copy of employeee rules. Check securities filings to see if they had litigation on any employment issues. Inquire as to their corporate culture and what groups they sponsor or make gifts to. What charities do they sponsor and why. Show that you are not just a one trick pony and you have interests in being active in the Corpoations doing and giving. It may turn out they are a wonderful group of people or it may show they are a bunch of pr...s that you would not want to work for anyway.





vtvickil's picture
Posts: 18
Joined: Jul 2012

Wow - that was eye opening!  I tend to think of myself as reasonabily tech savvy but Alexandra's post showed me I am a true novice.  I will google my real name every now and then, but hadn't googled my user name before  As Im sure you already know, I evidently need to come up with a few new user names! I  Had NO Idea!!  Appreciate the other insights as well - especially the comments about employee cutlture and corporate/community engagement.  It is a privately held company so it may take a bit more work than googling vtvickil and getting access to almost everything I do - but well worth the time invested!  I just keep shaking my head over that google thing.  Feels a bit like the AT&T commercials - so simple and yet so amazing

We will definitely be sure to dial in to that call on the 25th.  Thank you!!!

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