A woman shares her resume with 3 potential employers

Job Hunting Presents Challenges for Blood Cancer Patient

I’m back in the job hunt rat race. First impressions? It’s not pretty.

No level playing field with this job search

Looking for a job and holding down a position has unique challenges when you are battling blood cancer.

It is difficult enough when you are on the same playing field with other candidates. But let’s face it, we are not.

A little background: Throughout the nine years I have had chronic myeloid leukemia, I’ve worked remotely. Yes, when I was a newspaper reporter it still involved going out on assignments and interviews. For years, it worked and I pretended to be okay. (See related story).

Fewer jobs in my field than before

But because of the crumbling journalism industry, some of my clients have cut back on using freelancers for writing/editing tasks. Some publications have reduced their frequency or shut down entirely.

Now, as a woman approaching my 60s, I’m submitting resumes, applications, cover letters, and like many people, find it discouraging when you primarily hear nothing back.

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Leukemia adds to stressful process

Coping with leukemia, its side effects, and numerous other medical issues does not exactly help the situation.

Let’s face it, our health is precarious at best and every life decision must be made with a bunch of planning and jumping through hoops and deep thought.

The competition is fierce with hundreds, sometimes thousands of people vying for the same job.

I recently went to an in-person second interview for a part-time position. The interviewer asked me how I felt going back to an office setting and my spontaneous answer was I found the prospect “exciting.”

It has been 14 years since I’ve done such a thing. While I wasn’t lying, when you have blood cancer, health concerns are always at the forefront.

Will I be able to endure side effects with other people around? Can I keep up with bloodwork appointments and doctors' visits with a new schedule? What if I need to collapse and have a nap?

Walking in with a walker

Plus, for the past year or so, I’ve been using a rolling walker to get around. People sometimes look at you funny or treat you differently and I don’t like it.

As a result, I still feel awkward about it and always try to anticipate how others will treat me or regard me. This is my hang up and I realize that. I’m trying to not let it bother me so much.

In any case, at the recent interviews, I was made to feel it wasn’t a big deal.

I provided no context for the walker. Instead, I just rolled on over to sit down and never mentioned my blood cancer and how it has compromised my physical being.

(It certainly compromises our emotional wellbeing as well but that’s another story).

To tell or not to tell

If I get this position, my plan today is not to bring leukemia into the equation if I can help it. In the past, it was about 50/50 as to which clients knew what was going on versus those who I never needed to tell.

My CML only got mentioned in the past when I had to take time off to deal with a serious situation and could not ‘cover’ meetings, for example. Hospitalizations would be another reason.

To be honest, I’m re-thinking my desire to be open and upfront in this context. I had a long-term (10 month) stint at one remote workplace and applied when it became a full-time position.

Several interviews later, I mentioned my reservations of commuting a great distance (which it was) for what was going to be a mandatory day or two “in-house.”

Was blood cancer the reason I didn't get the job?

That’s when I revealed I had blood cancer. I’ll never know if that was the major reason why I did not get the job. I suspect it had a lot to do with it. The powers that be appeared really shocked (it was a video interview) and noted I had never missed a day, appeared sick or let my condition get in the way of my job performance.

Fooled them, in a sense, but was the joke on me?

What about you? Do you tell your employers what is going on or try to keep it silent?

And, if you are hunting for a job and get an offer, is it necessary to say anything?

Let me know what you think.

In the meantime, wish me luck. Fingers crossed.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Blood-Cancer.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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