I'm done with my cancer treatment but cancer is still a big part of who I am. When starting a new job, do I share my experience or hide it?

Life after cancer.

Expert Answers

Cancer_and_Careers (Organization (Verified) ) - 10 / 13 / 2011

Congrats on being done with treatment!

Your question is a tough one and a really personal one too. Everyone feels differently about this decision, my first piece of advice is for you to understand what you legally do and don't have to do so that any decision you make includes understanding that key piece, you can do some reading herehttp://www.cancerandcareers.org/en/at-work/Legal-and-Financial and for specific questions on your personal situation contact the Cancer Legal Resource Center at 1-866-THE-CLRC.

Next, I think it is important for you to think about the culture of the new place you are working, do they seem very tight knit and familial or is it more corporate and less intimate? Do people who have been there a long time seem to know a lot about each other outside the work realm? Other things to look for, is there another survivor on staff who has made that known to you? If so, how is he/she being treated?

Then I think you should ask yourself whether cancer being a big part of who you are also means it needs to be a big part of your work identity. Or if your experience can inform and shape the lens through which you view everything but you don't necessarily need to brand yourself with it at work. When you think this through, it is important to recognize fair or not that people have their own perceptions of what cancer means and what being a survivor looks like and you want to be sure that you are ok with how that might be received and how you might be treated once that information is out there.

It also might just be a case of waiting to see how your trajectory in this new place shapes up and choosing to tell the people who become important to you what you have been through as it organically comes up.

I hope this provides some helpful ways to think through the new environment and your decision about whether to share or not.


Rebecca V Nellis
Director of Programs
Cancer and Careers.
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