I Was Discriminated Against at Work for Having Breast Cancer


Seattle resident Nancy (not her real name), 54, says she was treated poorly at the organization where she worked in Seattle after her breast cancer diagnosis—and she wasn't sure she had the energy to stand up for her rights. Here's what happened:

First, Nancy was asked to reschedule her surgery because of an upcoming project at work; colleagues told her it wasn't "convenient." "I was just appalled," she says.

Next, Nancy received a letter informing her that her position was being changed to one that would no longer include health benefits. "I'd heard about that sort of thing in support groups," she recalls. She was outraged but not entirely ready to go to battle over this slight. "You're so tired. You have to decide, what do I have the energy for—to go to court? How important is this to you?"

Nancy saw an attorney, and, "Well, whaddya know? After one letter from her, the health benefits were retained."

More about coping

For more on your workplace rights as a cancer patient, read "Questions and Answers About Cancer in the Workplace and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)" from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, at www.eeoc.gov/facts/cancer.html. The American Cancer Society, www.cancer.org, also has excellent information on insurance, finances, and your legal rights.