One of the hardest parts of being a young cancer patient is that your employment status can be much less secure. I'm speaking broadly, of course; unemployment can hit people of all ages, and up until my diagnosis I was very lucky. But it's definitely a common and frustrating road block in the whole cancer-before-forty marathon.
I was diagnosed right after I finished a short-term internship which followed my MS degree. My MS was a huge life decision, and it was a big change in my overall plan. I was so excited to be heading toward what I hoped would be a lifetime (or at least a whole bunch) of fun and meaningful work.
My breast cancer diagnosis put the plan on hold. I didn't want to apply for jobs when I didn't know how I'd be able to handle treatment, which is notoriously changeable and hard to schedule around - surprise! You need extra surgery! Surprise blood clot! etc. So, for a year and a half I did nothing but survive. Now I'm healthy enough to start job hunting. And I'm hitting a few obstacles:
- I don't know if or when my cancer might recur. There's the big one. It makes me feel guilty, queasy and sometimes paralyzed.
- I'm still recovering, physically. My level of fatigue is unpredictable. Some days I'm racing; some days I'm exhausted. My brain is slowly returning to normal, but I'm not 100%.
- I'm still in treatment. I'm still getting lupron buttshots, taking tamoxifen, and getting zometa. I still get regular checkups and I still get mammograms.
- There's a 1.5 year gap in my resume. So far this hasn't been a big problem, but I worry somebody'll notice.