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
There can be definite struggles for childhood cancer survivors, even many years later.
There are marches, trending hashtags, walkouts and downright anger these days over just about everything. OK great, I get it. There's injustice. However, there's one group of people who are falling through the cracks, daily — people who really need help and who need a trending hashtag of their own. These people are childhood cancer survivors, and you can put me in the anger category on this one.
Many people like to think that cancer ends when treatment ends. In some cases, that's true, and that's great. In other cases, though, there are more battles to be fought, a lot more.
As I've written about before, many studies have shown that childhood cancer survivors are at a higher risk of suffering from heart disease, stroke, depression and other health issues later on in life. There are also plenty of studies that show we are more inclined to have issues with employment.
Do you trust the hiring manager that asks, "Did you really have cancer four times," or the would-be boss who asks, "What are your medical bills like," during an interview? Look, I've had some great coworkers, bosses and employers in my day who really understood and cared. However, I'll tell you, that's not always the case.
An employment attorney once made it very clear to me that cancer can often be a black mark on your record and lower your chances of getting hired. I've been given tips on how to work around this, but it can still be a challenge when it comes to finding a job, unfortunately.
Look, I get it, hiring someone who has had cancer and the side effects of cancer treatment for 35 years might not seem like the best business decision, but what are those survivors supposed to do? Most would like to be able to work just like everyone else. My go-to Google search for "childhood cancer survivors and employment" gives me nothing too promising in the results. As a matter of fact, just the opposite. I see articles about job-lock, insurance issues and employment issues all together.
It's great to see people walk for survivors every year. It's great to see companies donate to charities that fight against cancer and its effects. But personally, I think it would be awesome to see programs in place to support childhood cancer survivors who run into cancer-related issues further down the road.