WWYD..Job hunting with cancer...

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
WWYD..Job hunting with cancer...
16
Mon, 08-11-2003 - 11:31am
As many of you know, my DH has brain cancer. It will never go into remission and the tumor is suppose to come back anytime now. When it does, his options are a type of chemo that will make him severely ill, radioisotope surgery (placing isotopes directly on the brain) or doing nothing and bring hospice in. Needless to say, we are hoping we never get to this point.

Here is the problem: He is getting laid-off from his job. He has had this position for six years and they have been great to him. He is going to be job hunting soon. Should he tell his potential employees about the cancer? I personally think he should tell them on the second or third interview so they know coming in. Legally, he doesn't have to but morally does he owe it to them?

I have gotten 3 jobs since he has been diagnosed. I have told every single one of them during the second interview and have never lost a job. I felt I owed it to the employers to know that I might have to take off days to take care of him and that this was a fact of my life. Plus, if days off were going to be a sticking point then I did not want to work there. It has never been a problem.

What does everyone else think? DH is scared to job hunt and I am too close to the situation. If you were an employer, would you want to know? Would you hire him?

Kristi

"I do not want to be a princess! I want to be myself"

Mallory (age 3)

      &nbs

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iVillage Member
Registered: 05-24-2003
Wed, 08-13-2003 - 11:46pm
I don't know for sure, but I really don't think he has a "moral" obligation to tell potential employers about his health condition. Lots of people apply for jobs because they NEED the money and the health insurance. If they had "perfect" lives - lots of money, good health, no stress - then they wouldn't need to apply for a job in the first place. Lots of people working who are sick, even terminally ill. They work because they need to, of course. Here in the U.S. (if you live here), we don't have socialized medicine, and therefore lots of us depend on an employer for our health insurance needs.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 5:26pm
wow. In that case, I guess the decision to tell or to not to tell, IMO, depends on the job. If he has symptoms (or may symptoms may occur suddenly) then a high-risk job (e.g. school bus driver, a pilot -- I know your dh isn't one of these, but just as examples) would be advised against but since his job isn't high-risk (I think) -- just for *selfish* reasons, I still wouldn't tell.

And I know this is totally lame of me to compare it to the ER show, but it keeps coming into my head. "Dr. Greene" continued to work with his brain tumor. If he were applying for the job fresh on -- did he need to tell?
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 3:01pm
Suzy-your friend had some valuable advice. I am going to read your post again and think about it. Brain cancer can be considered a disbility and he is one of the few that is able to work. He might need special accodamations during training since it is difficult for him to process new information. Plus, he can have small focal seizures even though he has not in awhile.

Thank you for asking your friend.

Kristi

"I do not want to be a princess! I want to be myself"

Mallory (age 3)

      &nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 2:58pm
Well, his cancer will never go into remission. It just has not grown back enough yet to cause visible syptoms. It is hard to explain. His tumor is spider shaped and the surgeons can go in and take out the body of the spider. They can not get the legs, though. When they removed his right temporal lobe, the doctors were hoping they had cut the tentacles off from growing beyond his temporal lobe. They don't know if they did.

He has side effects from not having a right temporal lobe. He has some short term memory loss, he can not read map directions and he has some vision loss. For example, he makes notes to himself constantly. They will say: school zone so he will remember to slow down or intricate directions for when he coaches soccer. We don't know what type of syptoms he will have when his tumor comes back-perhaps vision loss or some speech. It will return in the orbital lobe which is a whole new ballgame.

In a way, his cancer is progressive. It is progressively killing his brain cells and causing neuorological side effects. We are fortunate that the right temporal lobe is the best place for a brain tumor and that my DH works out obsessively and keeps himself at maximum health.

How is that for a crash course on brain tumors?

Kristi

"I do not want to be a princess! I want to be myself"

Mallory (age 3)

      &nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-28-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 2:47pm
IMO -- K's dh's situation is a little different than your example of the person with Lou Gehrig like disease. Whereas K's dh doesn't have symptoms now and the cancer is in remission, your friend's disease (if it's anything like Lou Gehrig's disease)is likely to be symptomatic and progressive.
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 2:36pm
I have a friend whose dh was previously diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease. He was diagnosed six years ago and since he is still alive and functioning (and one of the characteristics is that you will die within 3 - 5 years) so he clearly doesn't have Lou Gehrig's disease, maybe just a disease closely related. He was looking for a job about three years ago and he was very open about his health issues (probably because he could afford to be at the time.) But he was hired at a place where he personally knew the CIO who was hiring so he couldn't have kept the issue a secret if he wanted.

My friend has this advice:

"I think it would unfortunately depend on how desperate for a job you are. If your current job is solid and you are just looking around, then you can afford to be totally above board. If you have no job and your health insurance is running out AND you have brain cancer, you probably wouldn't disclose it. The ethics of that are a different issue, however.



Have they talked about the legal implications? Would brain cancer be considered a disability? The only thing that K would have going for him, although it would be very, very difficult to prove, would be that companies are not supposed to discriminate against the disabled in hiring decisions."

Obviously you've gotten more in-depth advice about that stuff (the law and hiring issues) from other posters. My friend says that her dh did make sure to take as much life insurance as he could when hired (at a point where he could not be rejected.) Her dh did sit down with his co-workers and tried to educate them about his prognosis. He explained the shakiness of his hands and tried to project the rate at which he would become disabled (if he does become disabled beyond the shaky hands.) She says he would most certainly feel compelled to disclose his health if he were looking for a job now because he has a weak handshake and she knows he would want to explain that to any prospective employer. But he also has the luxury of stating that his health has been pretty stable for the last five years.

I suppose it is a matter of what can you live with? I don't think it is immoral to not tell an employer. But I do think it would be helpful in the long run to know that he was hired by someone not completely daunted by the prospect of employing a person with brain cancer.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 10:58am
That was my thinking too. Then I read Karenester post and there is a stigma to brain cancer. I come across it every day. People are always suprised he can work and he can drive. I think there is an assumption that people with brain cancer are drooling idiots-to not be politically correct.

Before he became a person surviving brain cancer, I thought the same thing. I assumed a person with brain cancer would have seizures and problems with walking and with talking. I don't know. I want him at a place where they are supportive and where he does not feel like he is a drain on the company. I just hate that he is getting laid-off. His workplace now is wonderful. The HR dept has bent over backwards for him. Hopefully, he can find such a place again.

Kristi

"I do not want to be a princess! I want to be myself"

Mallory (age 3)

      &nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 10:52am
Most large corporations offer HMO plans which don't refuse for pre exisiting conditions. I have never had to fill out a medical form to get one and neither has he. We are slaves to the insurance right now. He can get on mine at work but it is a 80-20/90-10 plan and that will kill as financially. He gets MRI's every 3 months and a PET scan once a year. The MRI is $3,000 and the PET scan was around $6,000. Ick! I am praying we will find a company that offers BCBS. We have it right now and they have been great. We have never had to fight with them about medication or going to Duke. They are more expensive but it is worth it. I am trying not to think about it too much because it makes me so nervous.

I think everyone is right and he should not say a word. I was overthinking it-he really does not need special accodomations. He travels to Duke once a quarter for his check ups and currently takes Family Medical Leave to do it. He might be able to work something out once he becomes employed.

Kristi

"I do not want to be a princess! I want to be myself"

Mallory (age 3)

      &nbs

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 10:48am
I would tell them on the second interview, if it were me, and I suppose it very well could be me some day if I go back to work. The difference is my cancer is in remission and potentially cured (they don't use that word for 9 more years cancer-free though...)

If they don't offer him the job, then it's not the right job, IMO. Clearly, his health has to come first and he needs an employer who is going to be supportive of that.

Good luck to you and your dh on all fronts.... from job to health.

-Deb

 

Avatar for karenester
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 08-12-2003 - 10:34am
Insurance forms would only come after a job is offered and accepted. At that point, of course he would list it. (And anyway, those forms would just go to HR and the insurane company--the boss should never even see them. Plus, I have never had to list actual pre-existing conditions on an insurance form that went to my employer.) But I sure wouldn't tell an interviewer that I had brain cancer before I had the job secured. The stigma dn the prejudice would be too great a risk for me to take.

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