A worman in her pajamas working on a laptop

Working Wish List With Myeloma

Having any form of a chronic situation can be very difficult. We know the script whether it’s the demanding treatment with hopes your body cooperates or managing your day-to-day while having an ailment. Now with that said many people are left to do whatever they have to do to cope and survive the tribulations and that also involves deciding whether they continue working while figuring this all out. Let’s dive in...

Wish list

So if you could cope with cancer and have the ability to continue working in your career and job, would you? What would you require to live, play, and work with multiple myeloma? I think I can speak for most the ability to have some form of flexibility would be helpful. The moving part of handling treatment arrangements is a specific process, whether by:

  • Check-in time
  • Lab time/results
  • Prep for treatment
  • Infusion process
  • Recovery
  • Return to normal until you do it all again

There is a lot to manage with cancer, and that’s not even including if you have other things going on. So what are some things that could make your time employed while living with myeloma (if you can still work) easier? First, let’s tackle the reality of the industry you may be in, as some professions lead to more flexibility than others. However, what would a perfect wish list look like?

  • Time off to recuperate
  • Rest station at your employment
  • A few 15 minutes breaks as needed after treatment (if you still decide to come into work on treatment day)
  • Free ginger ale soda as needed for nausea
  • Leave me alone button (continue with work but without chatter from those nosey and annoying co-workers)

These are a few as I’m sure there may be a lot missed. Again, it all depends on your profession.

No sympathies, just empathy

I don’t think a lot of us want the reaction of “AWW I'm so sorry” that comes with releasing information of how you now have to move around with myeloma - just a bit of empathy goes a long way. The idea of letting someone figure this out is a long haul, and some do better than others, but some wiggle room to adjust, and maintain while still having the ability to make a living means a lot. Sympathy is usually not warranted as it can be a crutch, and for those who now look at you as a work burden, that may go for the employer and your co-worker(s).

If you can continue to work and with a work situation where there’s an understanding, that makes life much better. If however, you don’t think you can pull your own weight in getting the work done to that 80% capacity, then perhaps looking into another situation that is not only fair to you but also your present place of work, as no one, especially the person with myeloma, wants to be considered a charity case, or that word I hate: burden.

Tips for working with myeloma

If you can continue working, you may have to have an honest conversation with your manager or employer. It depends on you and your situation, but maybe everyone doesn’t need to know your diagnosis. Consider what you feel comfortable with in regards to releasing details on your health. Will it benefit you by doing so?

Some things to consider:

  • Review that employee booklet a lot of people tuck away in the closet, as it may help with some answers on how employers can work with needed time and adjustments if illness happens.
  • Look at guidance groups for people with cancer who work, such as Cancer and Careers.
  • Understand your rights as an employee. In the United States, you can’t be fired for having cancer.
  • List your pros and cons for continuing to work, besides the obvious of feeding yourself and your family.

Unfortunately, many people don’t have the luxury of figuring out their options - they do what they can in pressing on until they can’t.

The time to fight is now, with integrity, grace, hope, and a smile... when you feel like it

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