Breast Cancer Recurrence: Looking For Work
Having a recurrence of breast cancer while seeking work adds a traumatic event to an already stressful endeavor.
You may be tempted to speed up medical decisions such as which doctor(s) and which treatments. Both of these decisions are important to your long term health and should not be rushed.
With a recurrence, it is generally advisable to get a second opinion from another cancer specialist. Consider asking a close family member or friend to go with you to doctor appointments and to help with these decisions. (See our document called Patient Advocate to help figure out who is the best person to go with you).
If you will undergo surgery, consider at least getting the surgery out of the way before continuing the job search. With surgery, you will likely need full days recuperating while physically not up to par. Your mental ability may be cloudy because of the anesthesia and pain medications. Other treatments can generally be done while working.
With respect to the job you are seeking, keep the following in mind.
- Consider your health insurance situation.
- If you have health insurance: Do not do anything that would affect your health insurance coverage for your existing condition. Thanks to a federal law known as HIPAA, if there is no gap in coverage greater than 62 days, the amount of time you had coverage is credited against a new waiting period. If you had your insurance long enough, there is no waiting period.
- If you do not have insurance: One of the options to get coverage is to look for an employer with health insurance without any, or with only a short, pre-existing condition waiting period.
- The larger the employer, the more likely to have such coverage. For example, a government entity.
- For additional information about obtaining health insurance, click here.
- Physically, the only question about work is whether you can do the work now. What may happen to you in the future is not relevant.
- A prospective employer cannot ask about your health condition thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act and similar laws.
- Experts counsel against sharing your diagnosis until you are offered a job. Whether to tell after accepting the job is up to you.
- You may have to disclose your health condition if you will need an accommodation at work to allow you to take treatments.
For additional information, see: