Wednesday, February 16, 2011
For the past six years, The SAMFund has provided direct financial assistance to young adults to help them get back on their feet after treatment. However, each year the number of requests increases exponentially, and over the past year we've tried to figure out a way to help even more people, and to do so throughout the year. We know that your bills can't wait for our application process to be open!
So, we're excited to announce that we're launching a new program, thanks to a grant from Pfizer - a free Webinar series designed to provide concrete, reliable advice and information about the unique financial struggles faced by young adults as a result of cancer and its treatment. We've partnered with some amazing financial professionals who will be sharing their expertise with participants and giving them the tools and resources to improve their financial situations.
Our first Webinar will be on Wednesday, March 9th at 4 pm EST. We're excited to welcome George Padula, a Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Analyst from Modera Wealth Management, as our first presenter. I presented with him last year at a BMT conference, and this guy *gets* it. He knows that young adults can't start thinking about long-term investments or even retirement planning when many barely have enough money to make the monthly bills. He also knows that many young adults face overdue credit card bills, increasing medical debt and ongoing expenses, with pretty limited savings and other resources to pull from.
The upside is that he also has some really good ideas as to how to get from Point A to Point B, when Point A is overwhelming and Point B seems so out of reach. He has great advice on setting short-term financial goals, figuring out how to budget, and eventually becoming comfortable enough to start thinking about longer-term goals like retirement savings.
So please join us on Wednesday, March 9th for the first of our Webinar series, Moving Forward With Your Financial Health, Part I: Regaining Control of Your Finances Post-Cancer. Here's the link to register: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/352685174.
Know someone who might benefit from the Webinar? Please pass the link on to them as well. We've got plenty of room!
(Don't worry if you can't make it... it will be recorded and made available on our website after March 9th!)
Thursday, February 3, 2011
After I finished radiation treatment I didn’t want anything to do with cancer. I didn’t want to be a cancer survivor, I didn’t want to identify with other cancer patients and I didn’t want cancer to be a part of who I was. In short, I wanted to forget cancer. I thought I could put cancer behind me and live the life I had before.
And I did, for awhile. But then a routine cat scan revealed "areas of change"-- dreaded words for a cancer survivor. My doctor scheduled MRIs and other appointments for the very next day. I hadn’t mentioned to my new employer that I had had cancer, and had scheduled all of my appointments on days off so I wouldn’t have to take personal time from work. But now I needed to take time off. I had to call my bosses and colleagues and explain. Everyone was shocked. “Why hadn’t you told us?” they asked. Suddenly, people I saw every day knew not only that I had once been sick, but they thought that I was again.
Further tests showed that the “change” was caused by the radiation treatment which is a fairly typical result, but still needs to be watched. I was immensely relieved. However, when I returned to work, I was also embarrassed. I felt like I had been living a lie and I knew I had taken everyone by surprise. No one ever said it, but they may have thought I hadn’t trusted them or that I didn’t value our relationships. I didn’t have the words to explain that it was my issue and that I was the one who couldn’t talk about cancer. I was the one who couldn’t admit, even to myself, that this was my life.
As I prepare to graduate from my Masters in Social Work program this May, I am beginning to look for a new job, and I am re-thinking how to let an employer know who I really am. Cancer is a hard thing to talk about. I know that an employer can’t discriminate against a cancer patient, but I’m fearful. Between me and another equally competent hire, won’t they think twice about hiring someone who will need time off for appointments and who may get sick again?
Mentioning health in an interview doesn’t seem like a good idea, and yet I know that waiting is a bad idea too. My husband suggests telling an employer during the first thirty days, which sounds good in theory. What moment is right, though? Is it something I should just casually mention, or do I request a formal meeting? Do I tell human resources or do I just tell the team I work with? And how do I avoid becoming, “that lady, you know, the cancer patient?” Cancer doesn’t define me; it’s just one small part of who I have become.
Have you started a new job since cancer? How have you told your bosses and your colleagues?
For more information about employment issues and regulations, as well as additional resources, check out Memorial Sloan-Kettering's website: http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/92614.cfm.