Colorectal Cancer: Newly Diagnosed: Seeking Work (Stages 2,3,4)
Being newly diagnosed with colorectal 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. However, both of these decisions are important to your long term health and should not be rushed. In fact, as you will see in our document about your medical care (link to new document), it may be advisable to take the time to get a second opinion from a different cancer specialist before starting treatment.
If you will undergo surgery:
- Consider at least getting treatment 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.
If you will undergo chemotherapy and/or radiation:
- Treatment for Stage II or Stage III colorectal cancer can continue for as much as six months. Treatment for Stage IV may continue for the rest of your life.
- Ask about how much time off would generally be required if you were working and how treatment would affect you while working. If there will be a major impact, take that into consideration when determining what job to seek.
With respect to the job you are seeking, keep the following in mind.
- If you have health insurance:
- Do not do anything that would affect your health insurance coverage for your existing situation.
- If a new employer offers health insurance, 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 for coverage for your situation which is referred to as a “pre-existing condition.”
- If you do not have health insurance:
- One of the options to get coverage is to look for an employer with health insurance without any, or with only a short, waiting period before a pre-existing health condition such as yours is covered.
- 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. Whatmay 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 disclosing your health condition until you are offered a job. Whether to disclose your health condition after accepting the job is up to you. There may not be a choice if you will need an accommodation at work to allow you to take treatments or to do your job.
For additional information about the above subjects, including how to act during the job interview, see the documents in "To Learn More."