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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


Your health condition may have changed the way you see things, including what is important in your work life.  Perhaps your old job or career is no longer where you want to be. For instance:

  • You may want more personal time. 
  • You may feel as if you want to do something "important" in  your work life. 

Your medical condition may give you permission to pursue a different path.

When thinking about what you want to do, consider in addition to your skill-set, mental capacity, education and experience the following subjects, each of which are discussed in other sections of this article:

If your ideal job is not obvious, there are government as well as private resources to help you figure it out.

To Learn More

What Job Is Best For Me?


When considering any job, think about the following:

  • Does it have the health benefits you need?
  • If you are in treatment, how will it affect:
    • Your ability to work? 
    • Your work schedule?
  • What are the mental and physical demands of the job?
  • What parts of a job for which you are fit can you not do? 
    • Would you be able to do them if you received an accommodation that would not place an undue hardship on the employer? For more about accommodations, see the document in "To Learn More".
    • Is the employer known to be flexible? Ask around to find someone who has worked for the employer.
  • What you would really earn per hour, something we call True Net Pay. (See the document in "To Learn More").
  • Does it fit with your self identity? (A job can be an important reason to get up in the morning).
  • Have your priorities changed now that you see the world through diagnosed eyes? 
    • If you haven't thought about this before, this is a good time to think about it. 
    • The nonprofit organization, Cancer and Careers offsite link has coaches who will help you figure out what you want to do, and how to get there. They work for you for free.


If you know exactly what you would like to do and what type of position you are looking for, and it's not affected by your health condition, then go to it!

If, on the other hand, you are not quite sure what you would enjoy doing, there are a number of resources that can be of assistance.

What Color Is Your Parachute? And Other Books

The classic text on the subject is What Color is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles. It's well worth your time to read through it. At the very least consider the author's suggestion that you take as much time as necessary writing an article entitled "Before I Die, I want to…." Don't be surprised when non-work goals creep in to your thought process -- allow it to happen. According to career change experts, the more your dreams come to the surface, the more likely you are to find the right job.

In Do What You Love,The Money Will Follow, Marsha Sinetar suggests that you focus on what you enjoy doing. If you enjoy doing something, the odds are you do it well -- an excellent combination for excelling at a job.

Internet Sites

You may also find guidance at the following three web sites which were developed by the U.S. Department of Labor. The sites provide information and resources for educational opportunities, career exploration and job hunting. They also contain numerous other resources, often listed by state:

You can find free surveys and tools as well as fee based surveys and tools at The Riley Guide: offsite link

State-sponsored career centers

State-sponsored career centers offer free testing and career counseling. You can find a center near you through: offsite link

Career Coaches And Counselors

Career coaches will help you identify your marketable skills, define your life and career goals, and then create a game plan to help you reach them. Personal coaches act as a combination of job advisors and lifestyle therapists. They address all aspects of your life. Be cautious in selecting one. No degree or license or professional certification is required. One place to start your search is to obtain referrals from the International Coach Federation, offsite link or call 888.236.9262.

You can also find coaches at:

As an alternative, consider undergoing aptitude and skills tests with a professional counselor. Look in your local yellow pages under "Career and vocational counseling."

Non-profit Organizations

Consider contacting a local disease specific non-profit organization for information on any back-to-work programs they may offer -- including career exploration seminars.

Effect of Your Health Condition

When considering a new job, think about  your mental and physical needs as they exist today, and as they may be expected to change.

Start with basic information about your health condition. For example:

  • Your diagnosis.
  • Treatments that you are undergoing or can reasonably expect to undergo.
  • Potential short and long term side effects of your condition and treatment(s).
  • What can be done to reduce the effect of your condition or side effects. (Survivorship A to Z has information about side effects and how to deal with them. See "To Learn More").
  • What time line can you anticipate?

You can find this information by speaking with your health care team. They can help you figure out when you will be at your most effective, and when you will be most fatigued. 

When thinking about what could happen, don't focus on the things that could happen. The key is changes that have occurred or that you can reasonably foresee as occurring.

For example:

  • Stress is a very common problem. The amount of stress you are willing to accept may have changed since your diagnosis. What causes stress is different for each of us. Think about what causes you stress so you can factor it in when considering what job you want to do. Some factors which are frequently reported as causing stress in a work setting are:
    • Lack of control over time, job priorities or work methods.
    • Dealing with discrimination or hostility because of a health condition.
    • Competition.
    • Frequent deadlines.
    • Management of other people.
    • Arbitrary, constantly changing rules.
    • Fear of job loss.
  • How will your treatment affect work, including the work schedule? 
  • Stamina may be decreased temporarily such as during treatment, or the decrease may be more long term. If so, working long hours, meeting production deadlines and working in a culture which rewards self-sacrificing acts like not taking breaks may be difficult.
  • Fatigue can be a major problem for some health conditions and/or treatments. In addition to affecting your work, it can affect your commute. An exhausting commute for a healthy person may be out of the question if you are dealing with fatigue. 
  • A drug or a health condition can include headaches, nausea, intestinal upsets and diarrhea. Perhaps intestinal problems can be handled with working closer to a restroom. Intestinal problems also require a job that allows for frequent breaks.
  • Exposure to extremes of cold, such as walk-in refrigerators, or damp heat, may cause discomfort or aggravate symptoms.
  • There may be memory loss and problems in concentration. If so, you may need an easier job, or a job where you can create aides to help.
  • Scheduled and unscheduled medical appointments may have to be taken into account if they will be ongoing or even be likely to occur periodically.
  • Complicated drug schedules. Drug intake often needs to be coordinated with meals or not eating. It can be particularly difficult for people who work on ever-changing shifts, who cannot control their mealtimes or breaks, or who have frequent overtime demands. Drug side effects can include headaches, nausea, intestinal upsets and diarrhea which can make matters even more difficult.
  • Methods of taking drugs may require a particular kind of work place. For example, some drugs have to be injected. Others taken intravenously. Time to be able to take the drug, and a private place, need to be considered.

Would You Prefer To Work From Home?

Thanks to the computer revolution, 1 in 10 workers operate on their own at home. Home based work can allow you to earn money ranging from a little to a lot on your own schedule.

People who work at home:

  • Are generally their own boss.
  • Set their own hours.
  • Don't have to dress or commute.
  • Can do fulfilling work.
  • Camaraderie is limited, if not non-existent.
  • May get some tax breaks.
    • There may be a deduction for having a home office.
    • Health insurance premiums can be 100% deductible.
    • Long term care insurance premiums are deductible subject to IRS limits.
    • Subscriptions to business publications are deductible.
  • Small business owners have access to tax-favored retirement accounts such as the individual 401(k).

Computers are inexpensive, you can connect to the internet via dial-up if necessary, High speed connection is available just about anywhere you live -- via satellite if not by a land line.

There are many choices.

For instance, many companies have started using people working at home to man their call centers. While foreign workers may be cheaper, American culture doesn't always translate. For example:

  • WillowCSN, staffs virtual call centers Workers are independent contractors instead of employees. People pay for their own training. A computer that meets the company's requirements is a must.
  • Alpine Access hires people as employees to work out of their homes.

Medical coders translate doctors' written diagnoses and lists of procedures into the codes that insurance companies use for billing. Generally people need to qualify by passing an exam, which generally involves a 12-18 month course. For more information, call the American Academy of Professional Coders or see offsite link

Without training, you could write Ethical Wills or resumes for people. For more information, see Ethical Wills.

If you don't know what business you would do, and want to explore ideas:

  • Contact National Association for the Self-Employed, offsite link or 202.466.2100.
  • Read through books such as:
    • Making Money with Your Computer at Home by Paul Edwards offsite link, Sarah Edwards offsite link, Sarah Edwards offsite link, Penguin 2005
    • 200 Best Home Businesses: Easy to Start, Fun to Run, Highly Profitable,by Katina Z. Jones offsite link, Adams Media Corporation offsite link 2005.
    • The Work-At-Home Sourcebook by Lynie Arden, Live Oaks Publications, 2005 specific information for finding, applying for, and getting home work from different companies.

For information about working at home, click here. For information about starting a home based business, see Starting a Home Based Business.

What Are The Real Earnings From The Job? (True Net Pay)

Look at what you will really earn from a job you're considering. We're not talking about the net you take home after taxes and other deductions. Instead:

  • Add up all the hours you would spend at work, getting to and from work, socializing with people you wouldn't, taking courses, etc.
  • Add all the expenses you don't have now such as different clothes, or vacations you would need because of the job.
  • Subtract the expenses from your pay, and divide by the total number of hours. The result is what you're really earning an hour.

We call the result your "Real Earnings." For a chart to help you calculate Real Earnings, click here.

Is This The Time To Relocate?

Is there someplace you've always wanted to live? If so, this may be the time to consider a move if your health condition is stable.


  • Potential pay compared to local living expenses. If you have difficulty crunching numbers, speak with a financial planner or a company that specializes in relocating employees.
  • Available doctors and quality hospitals -- particularly for your health condition.
  • Emotional support systems.

Keep in mind our following information: