profession, confession


ubby and I are so lucky in many ways. We had a lot of support throughout his treatment, and are now fortunate to have gotten through most of it with no complications.

March 20, 2006 will mark the six month anniversary of the transplant. According to his doctors, if Hubby makes it to the half-year mark with no problems, the chance of developing complications later on diminishes greatly. At six months post-transplant, Hubby will be able to find a job and otherwise go back to living life as he did pre-relapse.

The prospect of a "normal" life is amazing to think about, and I'm so thankful that we are getting close to this milestone with nothing to hold us back. However, reassimilating back into a life without doctors, transfusions, and 20-odd pills/day has presented its own set of challenges; the most notable one being Hubby's employment.

Directly after graduation from college, he had followed my job out to Oahu. Hawaii is paradise, but the heavy competition in the job market there was not something that either of us had prepared for. Apparently, the islands are a mecca for Environmental Studies graduates; every job he applied for ended up having hundreds of applicants. Hubby ended up taking a temporary job with the Post Office, and was promptly let go when the relapse occurred (his temporary status prohibited him from taking action about this). In May, we relocated to the DC/Baltimore corridor, and have spent most of our time since then in "transplant mode."

So now that the medical concerns are not immediate, and Hubby now has his health and energy back on a tenous basis, he has begun to look for a job. The chips are stacked against him before he even starts--we are in a new city, with few local contacts other than my coworkers and our doctors. I could help him go through the application process for low-level federal employment (I don't have much pull, as I'm a mid-level peon myself), but I'm looking to leave federal employment (or at the least, military employment) by the end of 2006. And even if he did find something that he was genuinely excited about applying for (i.e., NOT an "inside-the-Beltway" lobbyist paper-pusher), how would we explain the year on his resume with no employment? When the interviewer asks why he left his previous job, what will he say? Hiring laws prohibit asking about medical conditions as a condition of employment--but this "condition" has left such a large imprint in our lives that talking around it would be akin to talking around the Grand Canyon.

Where do we go from here?

posted by amanda @ 9:54 AM


At 1/26/2006 12:23:00 PM, Blogger Sandy said...

It's not a position I envy being in. I have no advice. No thoughtful words of wisdom. Just a wish of luck. A job search is never easy. A search with a canyon to talk around? Even harder.

Best of luck to your husband.

At 1/26/2006 02:44:00 PM, Blogger Marisa said...

Cancer creates chaos in many ways that the "ordinary" ever imagine.

I also don't really have any advice to offer for your husband's job search. Just want to wish him lots of luck and I hope that he find something that is rewarding.

And also wanted to thank you for stopping by my blog. :-)

At 1/26/2006 02:46:00 PM, Blogger Marisa said...

I should reread before hitting POST...sorry.

It should have read:

Cancer creates chaos in so many ways that the "ordinary" person cannot even begin to imagine.

At 1/26/2006 11:48:00 PM, Blogger Shane said...

An enthusiastic fighter/survivor is more palatable and appealing than your run of the mill interviewee.

i think he can use his great life experience to his advantage rather than skirting it.

Best to you both

At 1/27/2006 12:29:00 AM, Blogger margalit said...

You use the expression "personal reasons'. As a former hiring manager, to me that means anything from taking care of a sick parent/child to pregnancy and childbirth to rehab to illness to writing a book. It can mean pretty much anything, but it's clear you don't want to disclose much information in an interview, nor do you have to. But they'll find out when it's time to get health insurance.

Michele sent me.

At 1/27/2006 12:34:00 AM, Blogger deputyswife said...

Hello, here via Michele!

I hope and pray all goes well with your goal of the sixth month mark! And for a job!

At 1/27/2006 12:49:00 AM, Blogger jeni said...

i agree with shane. embrace it & let them know! :)

good luck in the job search. i'll keep you in my thoughts. :)

here from michele's! :)

At 1/27/2006 01:55:00 AM, Blogger Jeannette said...

I have had a lot of experience with hiring and interviewing in the government field, consultants, and in the area of the environmental studies (put them all together and you have my profession!). I really think you should think long and hard about disclosing the illness. There is a reason people can't ask that -- because they discriminate! One thing I learned is that people are cancer phobes too. They think if they stay away from those who get it, they will not "catch" it. Yeah, I know. Morons. Don't give them the chance to unnecessarily steal your opportunity.

Anyway, I work for the government and am proficient in "spin." If asked about that time frame, how about these --

There was an illness in my family and at the time it made sense for me to step away from work until it was resolved. That family member is completely recovered and I don't believe it will be an issue when I am hired here.

I had the opportunity to study the relationship between environmental factors and health. I was not paid for my participation so it is not included in my resume.

The future is all about the environment -- water quality, safe disposal, storm water run-off, hazardous waste. There is so much out there and the government is going to regulate it all. Either be the regulator or the regulatee (or know how to clean it all up). Best of luck to you both. March will be here before you know it!

At 1/27/2006 08:39:00 AM, Blogger amanda said...

Thanks all, for your support and kind words, and thanks Jeannette for the "spin"! I can spin a bit too, but it just seems different when the situation you're spinning about is such a personal one. We were thinking about it, and it just seemed like we couldn't think of anything that would be convincing. A lot of people have said "Just tell the interviewer," but after my experience with my new coworkers after the job transfer, I'm not so sure. You think that there are so many people who have cancer that people-in-general would have a better idea about how to deal with it in the workplace--and I'm not even the one who had cancer--they gave me plenty of heat about taking off to be a caregiver! Maybe it's because of our age.

Anyhow, I appreciate the ideas...

At 1/27/2006 08:54:00 AM, Blogger Minerva said...

Funny but I would be gutsy and strong about it..Well, I had cancer, and had to take the time off.. Been reassured that all is well..but then, I need to feel supported by my work place and would hate to work somewhere where they didn't accept ALL of me...

Maybe that is why I am a teacher...

Sorry, not much help, I know, but just my 2 million pounds... (hate the 2 cents thing..)


At 1/28/2006 10:30:00 PM, Blogger Carmi said...

I'll jump on the disclose-and-see-what-happens bandwagon. I believe strongly in fate. And if the company "gets" it, then all will be well. If they don't, then they weren't worth working for in the first place.

You're approaching this ideally, though. Asking the right questions, looking for the right sorts of guidance in the right place. Your blog is an ideal place to start, and I am heartened to see so many caring souls sharing their thoughts.

You may not have a lot of local contacts where you live, but your virtual community is ready and able to be there for you. How wonderful.


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