Childhood Cancer

Childhood Cancer Survivors

Armed services, police and fire departments

Some survivors of childhood cancer wish to enlist in the Armed Services; qualify for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), the Reserves, or the service academies; or work for a police or fire department. Applications from survivors for the Armed Services are considered on a case-by-case basis, and you may be eligible for a medical waiver to obtain admission.

Applicants are asked to provide information about their disease, its treatment, and their current health status. The recruiter should also be given the results from a recent medical examination and articles from the latest medical literature. If you are granted a waiver, you must still meet the physical requirements for the position sought. These regulations are outlined in the Department of Defense’s Instruction No. 6130.03, called “Medical Standards for Appointment, Enlistment, or Induction in the Military Services” (see ).

My son was diagnosed with neuroblastoma stage IV when he was 3 years old. He has had no recurrence. He wanted to join the Air Force ROTC when he entered college. He impressed the commanding officer of the detachment, who recommended him for the one scholarship he personally bestows. My son did the paperwork and had the physical and was rejected solely on his cancer history.

He had excellent qualifications, was driven and self-disciplined, and was extremely goal-oriented. He had his oncologist write a letter stating that he was “cured” of the neuroblastoma. The commanding officer also went to bat for him. The Air Force reversed their decision and gave him the scholarship. He is doing extremely well 3 years later and plans on becoming a pilot.

Childhood cancer survivors interested in applying for training or jobs in police and fire departments will need to check their local department’s standards for physical requirements. Generally, though, current physical condition is what matters, and employers cannot ask about health history until they have made a conditional job offer. 3