Coming Clean with Cancer
The articles on "Discriminated against for epilepsy" and "Fits cost me my job, not my dignity" in the Straits Times, Mind Your Body of 27 June 2007 echoed the plight faced by some cancer patients.
Some cancer patients withhold their diagnosis of cancer from their employers, especially during the recession. They choose to take their own leave and pay for their own medical expenses in order to save them from job retrenchment and job discrimination.
Some cancer patients did not reveal their illnesses (tactic of telling white lies) in order to secure job offers.
The recent contest on the "Top Ten Cancer Fighters" organized by Care Cancer Society is controversial as some patients find it too "commercialized" while one founder of a cancer charity shared with me that it provides an avenue for the needy cancer patients to win cash prizes (top three cancer fighters will each receive $10,000 and the remaining seven cancer fighters will each receive $5,000). The whole projected budget of the Top Ten Cancer Fighter's Award is about $500,000 as stated on its website at http://www.carecancer.org. Is the money well-spent?
However, some cancer survivors are not keen to join the contest as they are not prepared to lose their jobs by going public with their cancer stories.
The aggressive push for corporate social responsibility in Singapore, should also urge the employers to adopt a caring and humane hiring policy, i.e., providing equal job opportunities to people with treatable and non-infectious illnesses such as cancer.
On 25 June 2007, a cancer survivor of 13 years, sought my help to get another cancer patient to appear for a TV interview on traditional Chinese medicine. She feels "indebted" towards her TCM doctor but yet she is unwilling to appear on TV as her present employer does not know of her illness. Flatly, I turned down her call for help as I reckoned it is a commercialized programme, and the sponsor can easily find their own patient to replace her. After all, it is already a known fact that TCM plays an important role in battling cancer. Hence I told her not to feel lousy for letting down her TCM doctor. Surely, keeping her job is of top priority as she has four children to feed single-handedly.
Posted on 17 July 2007