I didn’t always have cancer.
I lived a life I chose and worked where I wanted.
I don’t remember ever applying for a job and not getting hired before my cancer.
I once enjoyed all the material things that you have as a healthy and “successful” person can. I had things like a nice house, a new car… Sky TV with multi room and a fruit/vegetable juicer in the kitchen.
Life however has always provided problems to negotiate and sadly the juicer and others had to go, but these material things could be replaced in time.
Then cancer happened.
Let me tell you, if you are told you have cancer, there is only one priority, surviving.
The cost of cancer is swallowed to simply survive. The material things are replaced by making the most of your time.
For 2 solid years I endured. Surgeries, treatments, reconstruction. A trip to the hospital was a day out! Sometimes it was a weeks holiday! The reality of cancer is the disruption it causes even after the cancer is “gone”.
I was diagnosed in 2012. Finally in 2014 I could begin to see a break in the clouds, I still had monthly hospital appointments, and I knew I would still need time off for reconstruction but I knew I needed to get back to reality. I wanted to get back into work.
Financially things had been tough. Sue worked, I was on benefits from the government. Our lives had been put on hold for too long, it is time to dust off the CV!
How do you account for over 2 and a half years not in work on a CV? In a short well penned paragraph I explained, but made clear that the cancer was gone and I was fit to work.
I applied for over 100 jobs. At that time for me working was my first priority, the job itself was secondary but I started with jobs I knew I could walk into. Nothing. I mean nothing. Not even an acknowledgement that I had applied. Perturbed I applied for job roles which anyone could do. Nothing still.
DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO HAVE A DISABILITY? TICK THIS BOX…
I ticked the box this time. Well I have one eye so technically half blind!! I got an interview! It was for care in the community, quite different from being a high flying salesman or restaurant and hotel manager, but I liked the idea of helping people.
“You ticked the disability box?” Said the interviewer. She looked at me as if I was wasting her time “we have to interview people if they have ticked that box…” There it was, the reality. The only reason I got my first interview after countless applications was because they were obligated to.
Cancer continued to curse my life and as usual I was powerless to stop it.
Finally I snapped. I posted on Facebook
“Does anyone know anywhere looking for staff? I will do anything!” 1 reply came back. That’s it, 1.
I started working as an admin assistant at a breakers yard 2 days a week. I knew nothing about cars, and very little about admin if I’m honest but it was the break I needed.
With a certain amount of pride I came off of my sickness benefit and became an employed person once again. Minimum wage, I didn’t care. Even finding we were financially better off on benefits than me working was not enough for me to drag things out anymore. We was barely getting enough money in to survive as it was, and because I wanted to work, we were penalised for it!! How crazy is that???
I have spent a good while writing this to ask the simple question.
“Why is it so hard for people to find work after cancer?”
I came to my own theory which was simply “who would hire a sick note?”