Ryan Hamner is a four-time survivor of Hodgkin lymphoma, a musician, and an award-winning author. In 2011, he wrote and recorded, "Where Hope Lives" for the American Cancer Society and the song for survivors, "Survivors Survive" used in 2015 for #WorldCancerDay. Recently, he published his book, This is Remission: A Four-Time Cancer Survivor's Memories of Treatment, Struggle, and Life, available on Amazon. His website is www.ryanhamner.com
A look at the job world as a cancer survivor.
"We've made some changes, and your position has been eliminated. I'm sorry," the man said.
I had not been in that cold meeting room for more than two minutes. I wasn't even offered a donut and coffee. Whatever though, it probably would have been kinda hard walking out of the place carrying a coffee, donut and all of the other stuff I had to clear off of my desk.
Being told your position has been eliminated isn't exactly the kind of thing that anyone wants to hear from upper management. And, it came without any kind of warning. Well, I did get a meeting notification, about 45 minutes earlier. But, when that kind of thing shows up out of nowhere and it's just a meeting with you and the boss's boss, you kind of know something bad is about to go down, and well, it did. I lost my job.
I get it, companies get rid of people for all sorts of reasons. And with layoffs, the reasons are usually masked in some corporate jargon that is vague and well, annoying. Usually something about "streamlining" and "synergy". I'll have to "circle back" with you on that. See what I did there?
At any rate, having no job stinks — for anybody. However, for those with illness, or those who have battled an illness like cancer, the "sucky" factor can be much greater than that of the average Joe.
One of the biggest benefits of working at a corporation is health insurance. Without good health coverage, a cancer survivor's life can become a financial nightmare. But it gets even harder, because finding a job, and getting back to a place of normalcy and security can be a chore.
Recently, I interviewed for a job, which was offering much less than my previous job. To make things worse, I couldn't get insurance for my first 60 days — which is kind of the norm, I get it. But also, I couldn't take any PTO for my first 60 days. So, what about the periodic blood tests I have to have? What about the doctor's appointments that I may have to make?
Personally, here is what I recommend for any cancer survivor so they are prepared when the unexpected pink slip comes around.
Save money! You must have some cash on hand and be ready for that unexpected layoff. I know, this sounds like a no-brainer, but so many people don't save like they should. You want to be ready to get by for about three months — to pay the health insurance bill, the car bill, etc. Also, stop paying for the things you don't really need. For example, if you have to, cut your Netflix subscription. Heck, you need to be looking for jobs anyway, and not binge-watching shows like, Stranger Things (I know, it's a great show).
Build Something on the Side
When you are on your feet, try building something on the side that brings in some extra cash. Maybe it's driving Uber, maybe it's cleaning houses, babysitting, selling on eBay. I don't know what will work for you, but brainstorm ideas that will help you make some extra money. Currently, I drive Uber and do some writing on the side. I'm not a millionaire, but I do make extra money.
Get on a Schedule
This may sound totally unrelated to having or not having a job, but being organized and staying on a schedule can help you in many ways.
One, with organization comes the concept of "small wins" that I've written about before. Also, if you do lose your job, you then can organize your day and still have a productive schedule. For example, wake up at 6:00 am, get ready and from 7:00 am to 10:00 am, search for jobs online, reach out to recruiters, etc. Then, maybe do your workout, drive Uber (my example) until 4:00 pm. Then take a break, sit in a coffee shop, and look for more jobs from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
In this type of situation, you'll be benefitting from those small wins I mentioned and feeling like you are working towards solving your problem: finding a job. And when you do find a job, that will be the "swim lane" you want to stay in.