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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.




Indications are that colorectal cancer does not affect a person's career long term.

If you need a change at work because of emotional or physical needs to help you do your job (an "accommodation"), you may legally be entitled to one under the law or as a member of a union. Even if you aren't legally entitled to an accommodation under laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), negotiate for one. After all, if you don't get the accommodation your job performance may suffer and your job may be at risk for non-performance. Survivorship A to Z shows you how. Click here. One accommodation to consider is working at home.

You may be legally protected against discrimination at work by laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act(ADA).  Discrimination is hard to prove. For instance, just because a person doesn't get a raise or a job promotion does not necessarily mean that there was discrimination.

  • Start keeping a Work Journal which includes conversations or actions that you think could indicate that you are being discriminated against.

  • Also include in your journal the good things that happen, such as a good work report, or when someone compliments you for a job well done.

  • For information about this subject, click here

If you start to run into problems, see the section of this document: What To Do If You Run Into Problems At Work. (Link to the new section below).

If you need time off because of your health, juggle what the time is called to maximize employer's benefits. Note that under the Family and Medical Leave Act(FMLA) (T71) which provides time off without income, the time off does not have to be continuous. It can be in blocks of time, or it can be intermittent, such as taking time to go to a medical appointment. If you need time off due to health, our document shows you how to maximize benefits. Click here.

Start planning "just in case" there is a recurrence or something else happens. Because of your health history, you are at increased risk of a recurrence or developing another cancer. See the section of this document "Plan Ahead 'Just In Case"

If you haven't disclosed your health condition at work, we're not suggesting you do so now. We're just raising the issue so you are aware of your rights.

  • There is no legal obligation to disclose and no right or wrong. However, keeping a secret is stressful. The greater the secret, the greater the stress. Stress impacts the immune system.

  • If you want to learn more about disclosing a health condition in the work place, see our document about disclosure to employers and our document about disclosure to co-workers. 

Is it time for a change? It is not unusual for people who have gone through treatment for colorectal cancer to reevaluate what is important, including wanting a different kind of satisfaction at work or a different balance between work and play - while doing whatever is necessary to keep or obtain good health insurance coverage. You may even want to become self employed or start your own business. (For tips, click here about starting a new business, click here.) 

What could happen in the future is not a reason to prevent you from pursuing your dream.

If you are not satisfied with your job, or want to earn more money or get better benefits, job lock because of a health condition is a thing of the past.

  • You do not have to tell a new employer about your colorectal cancer history thanks to the Americans With Disabilities Act

  • A new employer cannot ask about your health history or current health condition.

  • Your current health insurance counts as a credit against any waiting period a new employer's health insurance imposes on new hires for preexisting conditions thanks to a law known as HIPAA


  • If you are returning to work after being off work because of your treatment, read about returning to work in the Survivorship A to Z document: On Disability.

  • If you are a small business owner with one or more employee, click here.

  • If you are self employed, click here

If You Are Unable To Work Or May Be Unable To Work In The Foreseeable Future


If you may need to stop work:

  • Learn how to maximize time off without pay. (To learn how, click here.) 

  • Learn about the disability income sources to which you may be entitled.

  • If you are going to apply for SSDI or SSI: Only one third of applicants for SSDI are awarded an income. Survivorship A to Z provides easy-to-use information for applying as an educated consumer that makes it more likely to get a "yes" when applying for SSDI and/or SSI.

  • If you already have an income from either SSDI or SSI: Survivorship A to Z provides information on keeping your income, including what to do if an investigator shows up. We also provide tips to make the transition to disability easier and explain your ongoing rights, such as keeping Medicare.

  • If you have health insurance through work and will continue coverage through a COBRA type law, start thinking about how to pay for the premium. Health insurance is critical to good health care.

  • Review at our document Work: Preparing for Disability: Short Term 

Home health care is available for many situations that used to require hospitalization. Home health care is generally covered by health insurance.

Get your legal affairs in order. (We call the subject "Planning Ahead"). Please do not assume from this that we are suggesting you are going to die sometime soon. Your prognosis depends on many factors, including the type of cancer, your physical condition and your access to the best cancer care. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. What we are suggesting is what we suggest to everyone. Life is fragile. (For information about getting your affairs in order, click here). 

What To Do If You Run Into Problems At Work

You may or may not be legally protected at work against discrimination and you may have a right to a change in the way you work in order to accommodate your needs (an "accommodation) thanks to laws such as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). Colorectal cancer as such does not automatically qualify. There needs to be an affect on your daily life.

Whether you are protected or not, a lawsuit to enforce whatever rights you have is a last resort.

It is preferable to figure out what you need and then to negotiate for it. If you are not good at negotiating yourself, ask someone to do it for you.

If necessary, let your employer know that you are aware of the rights people with colorectal cancer have under the Americans With Disabilities Act. While not asserting that you are covered legally, the reminder of the existence of the law may encourage your employer to do the right thing. (Note that we are not suggesting you say you are covered by the law if you are not.  or to threaten a lawsuit. Most people do not respond well to a threat).

The document in "To Learn More" provides negotiating tips.

How To Plan Ahead "Just In Case"


To plan ahead "Just in case":

  • Do whatever you can to get or keep health insurance,  (If you don't have health insurance with your current job, think about changing jobs to an employer who provides health insurance, such as the government. See: Changing Your Job Or Career

  • Each year you may be able to pick a new health insurance policy. Pick the best one from the point of view of a person with cancer. (Survivorship A to Z shows you how in our Cancer Health Plan Evaluator).

  • Take disability income insurance, and long term care insurance if they are offered.

  • Take life insurance. Increase the death benefit on any policies you have. Even people with a health condition can usually do this once a year. In addition to providing for your heirs, if you become ill you may be able to access money while you are alive. (See: New Uses Of Assets: A Living Benefit From Your Life Insurance

  • Start keeping a work journal containing facts that could have any bearing on a claim that you are being discriminated against at work because of your health condition "just in case."

  • Learn how to maximize time off using your employer's benefits such as Sick Leave and your rights under laws such as the Family Medical Leave Act.

  • Sock as much money as you can into tax deferred savings accounts such as a 401(k) or a Health Savings Plan. (The document in "To Learn More" tells you how to maximize use of one of these accounts.)

  • Create an Emergency+Fund. The key is to put as much cash aside as you can in case of recurrence.

  • While you are employed, you likely receive credit card offers in the mail. Consider taking the cards. Taking the cards is not the same as using them - except to the minimum extent needed to keep them in force. Credit will be valuable if your colorectal cancer returns or if another type of cancer appears.

  • Start planning at work in case you eventually have to leave work to go on disability. It doesn't take a lot of time - and will be invaluable "if". To learn how to plan, click here

  • Learn about the disability income sources to which you may be entitled.

    • Check benefits at work.

    • Look at the requirements for obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). SSDI is a benefit to which you are entitled because you paid premiums for it from every pay check. (Don't ultimately apply without first reading about how to apply as an educated consumer that makes it more likely to get a "yes." Click here. 

    • If you have health insurance through work, you will be entitled to continue it if you leave work under laws generally known as COBRA. (click here.) Since you will have to pay the premium, start thinking about how to pay for the coverage in case you become unable to work and have to pay the premium yourself. If you won't be able to afford the premium, and cannot be covered under a spouse's coverage, look to see if you can qualify for Medicaid. 

Insurers think of disability as something that happens at a defined moment. In reality, you have some control over whether and when you will be considered to be disabled for purposes of an insurer's programs or insurance such as SSDI. To prepare "just in case":

  • Each time you see your doctor, tell him or her about how your health condition affects your work. Ask the doctor to include this information in your medical record. This information will serve as a record that bolsters your eventual claim. It will also give your doctor a better understanding of how your life is being affected by your health condition.

  • Consider seeing a mental health therapist. In addition to helping during your transition, a diagnosis of a mental condition such as depression can be considered to be a disabling condition in and of itself.

If You Are Considering Changing Jobs Or Careers

Your health history is no longer a block preventing you from changing jobs or from getting health insurance from a new employer.

  • A prospective employer cannot ask about your health history. You can write your resume to avoid calling attention to missed time. To learn how, click here. A516

  • A new employer is allowed to include a waiting period of up to 12 months before its health insurance covers pre-existing health conditions (your colorectal cancer). However, a new employer must offset against that period the amount of time you had your existing coverage as long as you are not without insurance for more than 2 months. (If you had your insurance for 12 months, there will be no waiting period for health insurance).

Before moving to a new employer, check the employer's benefits. Learn about an employer’s benefits indirectly or with cover so it doesn’t look as if benefits are as important to you as they are – especially health insurance. In addition to health insurance, particularly look for disability income insurance and life insurance. Even if you don't need life insurance for a beneficiary, it can become an asset that you can sell if you become sick.

It is advisable to tell a new employer about your colorectal cancer history after the job offer but before starting work so you can take necessary time for doctor appointments and follow-up tests. If you have an ostomy, it will be difficult to keep your practical needs a secret. Of course, emphasize that you are now in good health and expect to stay that way (and that an ostomy will not interfere with your ability to do your job).

If something happens that you may become disabled, start planning.

Each of these subjects are covered in the documents in “To Learn More.”

To Learn More

More Information

Colorectal Cancer: Ostomy