Whatever job or career you have in mine can take a big hit when you get sick.
For me, before I ever had cancer, I was very driven in my work. I graduated with a B.Sc. in chemistry and had my Ph.D. in chemistry by the time I was 25. I was very motivated, and although not naturally the smartest man in the work, I was very hard working, I always felt that was my greatest asset. I tried to get my work done and help others in the field, it didn't always work, but I felt I gave it my best effort.
I mover from Halifax to Vancouver in 2010 to start working as a post-doctoral fellow at UBC. Not six months in I was diagnosed and all of a sudden I couldn't really work in my field anymore, doing lab work was basically impossible, I just was not in the shape to do it, as much as I may have wanted to at the start.
As the months were on with treatment, I found the thing I missed most about work was being around people. My views changed quite drastically on what "work" meant to me. Getting back to work was always a big motivator to me, but I began to question what that work would be. It requires you to be at your best to do what I did, and I wasn't.
Time went by, and I stopped thinking about completely, but when I finally did get back to work, at first it was great. But I began to ask myself if this is what I wanted to do. I still had my work ethic but many problems occurred. First of all, I had spent so much time away, I had to relearn and regain confidence in my skills. I had a good friend in the lab (another post-doc) who helped me with much of this. It was nice to have someone not judge me when I got back to work, as most people seemed more interested to see how bad I was rather than help me get back to my old level. I will always be thankful for that.
One big obstacle I still have to overcome with finding work is how to get work without cancer being a "problem". Being sick like that does effect your job prospects (I have found), some people simply will not hire you with a condition like this, even when you are cured. It is very discouraging some days. The chemistry field in Canada is quite small, so people know what happened to me, I can't hide it, and it does effect my prospects for long term employment. But I am confident I will find opportunities out there.
Now a days, I feel I am motivated to work as hard but in more and different ways before. I will admit I didn't use to see the value in volunteer work, I wanted to get paid. Now I volunteer at the BCCA and it is fantastic. I work towards fundraising to cancer research. So far I have raised over $5000 at the Ride to conquer cancer www.conquerccancer.ca/goto/eamonnc. And even more I intern finding and compiling data for www.letsfcancer.org to help them with their education about early detection of cancers.
All of these have added to what I want to do. Maybe one day I will get paid for those kind of things, but I find now maybe my career path is more complete. I can still work towards my goals in chemistry and I am doing things I never thought I would be involved in, and it is extremely rewarding. And most importantly, they make a difference to people living with illness.
So although your career path will no doubt change. Try to stay positive. If nothing else you may try some new things and find out you like them, and that they do make a big difference in peoples lives.