Personal hx of cancer, wanting to work in onco... (x-posted)

  1. Hi all,

    I am a new ADN grad, job-hunting. Passed my NCLEX-RN last week, so that's taken care of. I went to nursing school because of a personal interest in cancer and cancer risk issues -- my mom was dx'd with breast ca when she was 34, and died at 36, I have a lot of other family hx of cancer, and in my late 20s discovered that I am a BRCA2 mutation carrier. I had DCIS at 34 (before nursing school), and a bilateral mastectomy. Then to everyone's surprise (especially mine!), I had a local recurrence, this time an IDC, luckily small, and node neg, dx'd the summer between my 1st and 2nd yr of school. Spent all of my first semester doing chemo and rads, but still managed a 4.0 GPA (my little "nice try, sucker!" to cancer). I have recovered from treatment very well, and am considered cancer-free.

    My experiences have only strengthened my resolve to work in oncology. I really believe I have a lot to offer. The job market for new grads is very tough in my area right now, but I am not ready to give up just yet. I am eager to get OCN certification ASAP, and that means getting a year of oncology nursing experience ASAP.

    Here is my question for those of you in the field: How relevant/helpful/irrelevant is my own cancer hx when it comes to onc nursing? Obviously, I'm not going to put it on my resume, but is it something that you would mention in a job interview? I honestly feel like my experiences will be advantageous to my nursing practice -- although I would never generalize my individual experience to everyone with cancer, I do have a unique perspective on the physical and and psychosocial issues, teaching needs, etc. of patients facing at least certain types of cancer dx. Or could that be seen as "poor me, I had cancer, give me a job, boo-hoo-hoo"? Or just unprofessional -- ie, thinking personal health hx has a bearing on the ability to provide good patient care?

    Thanks so much for you feedback. Your honest answers are much appreciated!

  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   julwh
    I'll be interested also to see any replies. I am a 3x hodgkin's lymphoma survivor and want to go into oncology also for the same reasons as you (family history, own diagnosis, etc).

    Good luck!
  4. by   caliotter3
    I don't think I would mention this in a job interview. The interviewer has as much of a chance to see this in a negative light as the other way around. You never know what their viewpoint is and how they see you in terms of that viewpoint.
  5. by   Hoozdo
    I think I would mention it and add it in on any questions like "so why do you want to be a nurse." Or "what are your greatest strengths?" You can emphasize that you have pt empathy because you know what it is like on the other side of the bed.

    I would also tell the interviewer that this isn't something you would disclose to every pt, just if you feel it would make a difference to the pt. Also tell the interviewer that your health is FINE now.

    I feel it would increase your chances of getting the job. And if it hurts your chances, you probably wouldn't want to work there anyway!
    Best of luck