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Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 03, 2019

How, when & what did you tell your job about breast cancer? Finances?

Posted by @joy2019, Fri, Jan 4 10:31am

Hi, All. Wow!!! I am so happy to find a place to ask questions. Thank You in advance to all responses. I so appreciate anyone who is willing to share.
I am 60 yrs. old and had a positive diagnostic mammogram in December and now researching how to get through all this.
My husband had surgery in November and is out of work on short term disability, returning to work beginning of Feb.
I have health ins. through my work but my job does not have paid time off. I know FMLA would Guarantee (for 12 weeks) I retain health insurance and I am still an employee of the company I work for. Due to the nature of my work the company pushes to fill all hours. If I have to take time off they will want to fill my spot. Through the company: I work specifically with one client (who very dislikes change) When I would return to work there is no guarantee this client would want to change back to Me after getting used to interim staff. I am limited by my training on certain equipment and the company may not have a different position open and available that I could do.


Hi @joy2019, what great questions to ask. I'm tagging other members, like @roch @cindylb, @tessfair1 @ljwright4778 @mollymiller @marykaym63 @karendb, who may have some experience to share on when, what and how to tell their clients or employer that they have breast cancer.

Joy, when do you start treatment?

It is a shame you have to worry about job and finances while dealing with a stressful medical situation. I am currently going through chemo, but retired so did not have worry about job.

Time away from work is going to depend on type of pre-surgery, surgery and post-surgery treatment plan. It is very hard to predict because everyone has different recovery time and side effects from treatment.

My biggest hassles came from my post retirement employee health insurance. Make sure you understand what your health insurance covers and what requires precertification / approval. My insurance would not cover MRI until I had confirmed diagnosis. So had to have biopsy on original tumor, once confirmed that it was cancer then insurance approved a MRI which found another different suspicious spots which required additional biopsy.

My insurance company also had to pre approve surgery, chemo and echocardiogram (required prior to chemo). In end, they covered the charges, but only after multiple phone calls to clinic and insurance company.

Good luck,

I will weigh in here only briefly because….I have very, very strong opinions on the state of medical coverage and insurance and employers. My experience has been almost completely negative (unfortunately). I will share what I have learned in hopes of saving you as much of the downside as possible but will refrain somewhat because this is a site sponsored by a medical entity (and a site that has been a terrific support to me).
I was self employed when I was first diagnosed with a stage 0 breast cancer (I might or might not have gotten invasive cancer). I had to cash in all of my retirement money to get through that one…….pre Affordable Care Act, so costs were huge. The second time I was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer I was employed by a very large, well known national media company and they said I could have a month off, while working at home following my bi lateral mastectomies. Once I returned my employer decided it would be better to have me be 'part time with no benefits'……as I was recovering from surgery and post op care. They even said it was because I was costing the company too much in medical insurance care. It is illegal. I consulted with two attorneys and ultimately negotiated the employer paying Cobra benefits for a few months and payment of sales commissions for a year (which I had earned). I could have sued the company and would have won but I was frankly too tired and still reeling from the cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Here is my two cents – it's hard enough to have cancer but it is all too frequent that employers try to wriggle out of supporting you when you're ill. You should be able to find an attorney who will help you understand your legal rights. Make it clear to your employer that you have certain rights that you would like honored and if they refuse to comply, utilize the lawyers services to force them to do so.
When you are facing a medical crisis the last thing a patient needs is to add the financial concerns and burdens on your plate. In addition, make it clear to your doctors (and their social work support services) that you are facing workplace trouble or financial concerns. Those issues can affect how well you can heal, decisions on care and long term consequences.
I need to stop now because I can feel myself going over the edge on this………….a patient with a serious diagnosis should not have to make decisions based on whether or not they will lose their home, security or have food to eat because they were unfortunate enough to become ill. A little time now looking into your rights and options is well spent in relation to your emotional and ultimately general health.

Hi @joy2019. I'll chime in with a very positive experience. I was confident of my employer's support and understanding so told her immediately, and kept her updated as my diagnosis changed from stage 1 to stage IV. She always told me not to worry about my job and that we would work out whatever time off I needed. I'm also fortunate in that my job duties are fairly flexible and I was able to work from home as needed.

It sounds like in your case you may want to wait until you've met with your doctors and received your actual diagnosis and treatment plan. You'll have a better idea then of how much time off you'll need.

I wish you the best!

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