I’ve had to live with jobs that were way off my career path just to pay my health insurance. Heidi Adams, executive director of Planet Cancer, is going to be asking President Obama about this very issue on ABC Primetime tonight live at 10 PM EST. The program is called “Questions for the President: Prescription for America” (Must see young adult cancer TV. Go Heidi Go!)
During cancer treatment I lived on disability. Afterwords I needed a job with health insurance. In my book Everything Changes, I wrote about my day job working for a non-profit organization that helped ex-offenders. “I sat in church basements with rapists and murderers (a remarkably respectful and nice bunch of guys) teaching résumé writing and feeding them the organization’s line that if you work hard enough, you can achieve anything. These men and I knew this was bullshit, that life’s circumstances don’t necessarily comply with will or effort.”
The job had ups and downs. The downs: My employer’s insurance agent called me nonstop asking when my cancer would be gone so their healthcare rates would go down. I worked 40 hours a week, the pay was lousy, and I had no reserve energy to write or choreograph. For the first time in my life I was utterly non-creative. So much for living your dreams after cancer, right?
The ups: I had health insurance. And, the men I taught were pretty cool. After going through cancer it was great to be surrounded by people who were also struggling to adjust to “normal” life. They made me feel like less of a freak. We were good company for each other. Is it pathetic that ex-cons made me feel normal? I don’t think so. We were all just people trying to cope with change.
How has cancer and the need for health coverage impacted your work life? What jobs have you taken that you would not have otherwise? What were the ups and downs? Are you job searching now or returning to work and how are you handling it?