Cancer and Careers: Can’t Stop the Hustle

There is one common denominator I know many people face when it comes to the workplace – lack of empathy. Some employers are inflexible when it comes to follow-up appointments. Several do not understand “chemo-brain.” In either situation, they may sometimes be insensitive. And there are a few of us as survivors who realize we do not want to be employed at our current job any longer. We feel overworked and undervalued. Conquering cancer has created a sense of urgency in us to pursue our dreams and we are going to quit, today!

3 Tips for Dealing with Employers During Breast Cancer Treatment

  1. Always communicate with your employer, in writing, what you need and when. Do not let a personal relationship with your employer allow you to become so comfortable that you forget to be professional. Especially now! If you need the schedule rearrange, send an email as soon as you know. Communicate the importance of maintaining your health in order to continue to render exceptional work as an employee.
  2. Get connected with resources that can help you stay informed about your rights and protections in the workplace.
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  3. Express any concerns you may have with returning to work when it comes to your duties and responsibilities. If you were once the superhero of the company or office, and that is not something you can fulfill, ask to revisit the job expectations and communicate what your capabilities are.
  4. If you are just over it and excited to begin a new venture – PLAN! Do not just quit your job. Do not even draw a resignation letter unless you are prepared – be it mentally spiritually and/or financially. Some employers may release you immediately. Delve that urgency into research, training, and strategizing as much as possible. Let your job fund your new pursuits, that with your dedication, are sure to manifest!

Some things to keep in mind with these scenarios: Depending on your relationship with your employer and coworkers, you are free to share with them your appreciation for their flexibility and gestures. But always remember, you are not indebted to anyone. There are laws and company guidelines that protect you.

Careers and Cancer: My Story

Patricia Fox: BossBefore cancer, I was a workaholic in a small insurance office. My annual reviews were always exceptional and I found the profession to be rewarding. After cancer, however, I grew resentful of my career. I felt I was being taken advantage of in some ways with unfulfilled promises for my achievements. There also were a couple of personalities I worked with whose constant microaggressions were becoming more unbearable as the days went on. The financial devastation cancer brought into my life left me very vulnerable to need financial assistance from others. This assistance, however, came with entitlement as if I were indebted than simply being kind gestures.

“As the CEO of your life, you have the right to fearlessly, and strategically, pursue your dreams upon conquering this battle.”

One morning, with no intention to quit I would get settled at my desk, search a resignation letter, copy and paste the impersonal letter and set it on my agent’s desk. The response was several insensitive things said toward me, mainly naming all they had done for me. I was ultimately being let go immediately without any earned commissions. While transitioning afterward was not easy, the fearlessness I had after braving cancer made all things possible! I was homeless and then relocated to another state to be with family. It was there that I became successful in a new career pursuit.

I Am the Boss of Me

In hindsight, I could have done things differently. But even the worst decisions build character for those who learn the lesson! And so, as the CEO of your life, you have the right to fearlessly, and strategically pursue your dreams upon conquering this battle. Hopefully, those that extended themselves to you on your journey feel honored at the opportunity of contributing to your healing, and magnificence in your future endeavors – with or without them.


Patricia FoxPatricia Fox is a new contributor at YSC. Diagnosed with breast cancer at age 26, Patricia now shares her insights and deep wisdom in the hopes of encouraging other young adults like her. Read more about her and her work at thepinksistah.com.

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