Dad has Cancer

Hey guys looking for some help here. I'm supposed to start at a BB on west coast in July, but unfortunately my dad has recently been diagnosed with cancer (not mentioning type for privacy). He will be undergoing intense chemotherapy treatment over the next 8-12 months (side effects include rapid weight loss, hair loss, nausea and loss of appetite, and extreme body weakness).

My mother is the only other person besides me who can take care of my dad, but she is 62 and has a few health complications herself. I have no siblings or any other family who can come to help. I really want to be at home to support my father but also would ideally like to start work as well to give financial support to my family too.

I reached out to the HR dept to see if I can start training at least virtually but they said they can't give me an answer right now. Really would appreciate any advice on what to do or just any type of support, as this has been one of the most traumatic things to happen in my life.

Comments (50)

  • Associate 1 in CorpFin
May 10, 2022 - 1:18pm

Sorry to hear that Mate. My dad has cancer as well and I'm scheduled to start as an associate this summer in a city far away. Luckily, my dads cancer is currently under control but if things were ever to deteriorate, I would quite Banking in a heart beat to spend more time with him if they weren't flexible. Can always go back to banking - this is real life important Shit, time is is precious. I'd prioritize family. I wish you and your family all the best.

May 10, 2022 - 1:54pm
NoEquityResearch, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If necessary, let the bills pile up and pay them later.  You can always make money later.  You don't get to see your dad later if things go in the wrong direction. Will put in a prayer for you man.

May 10, 2022 - 2:29pm
jamesbaldwin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm very sorry to hear about your dad. My dad was deep in his battle with cancer when I started working FT at a big bank (non-front office) in a city 3 hours away. This was a few years back. Thankfully his illness was somewhat manageable at the time. But here's my advice. If you have a LinkedIn profile, create a thoughtful post articulating your (and your dad's story) i.e. asking for prayers if you are religious, etc. But it has to be genuine. I mention this because LinkedIn's algorithm can be very powerful if used correctly. I have seen LinkedIn posts receive +90k views (and not from one of those influencer people - just a young professional who has had some success in his/her career). My point is that you don't know who will see your story i.e. maybe it will be the head of some reputable investment bank who finds your story compelling and would be happy for you to join his/her team (plus accommodating around your family situation).

Most Helpful
May 10, 2022 - 2:51pm
m_1, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would quit if they can't accommodate. Not being with him is 100% something you will regret.

My grandma has Alzheimer's now so I've been visiting 1x - 2x a month, and no regrets. Seems like a good way to spend money. Your job will always be there in the future.

May 10, 2022 - 3:23pm
IncomingIBDreject, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Are there any regional boutiques close to where you live?


  • Incoming Analyst in PE - LBOs
May 10, 2022 - 3:41pm

Last year I decided to take a year off (fresh grad) to take care of a loved one (not a terminal illness thank god). Recruited for next year and moving out of town in a few months, hoping my loved one's illness will be cured by then (almost there fingers crossed). It looked like a tough decision for me, especially some boring days at home and having worked so hard to get a position, but I don't regret it (although I got pushback from my parents). Like me, you're still early in your career and taking a pause (if need be) is not a bad thing at all - especially for this. I looked at it on a regrets basis - would I regret not helping my loved one or losing pay and 1 YOE. Sharing this in case you feel alone and wanted to hear someone else's rationale.

Hopefully HR can help you OP, really shouldn't be a reason why you can't work virtually. I'd argue the few weeks of in-person training would be more important to get you running and know your analyst class/ coworkers compared to working virtually (the world did it for a whole year and most continue to do it), but even the training can be virtual. Wishing your dad the best.

May 10, 2022 - 6:16pm
fomafoma, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I am very sorry to hear this. You're confronted with no obvious solutions and I assume quite a bit of guilt for worrying about your career during such a time. 

This will suck but you can be sure that 1) at some point, you'll come out stronger and well grounded and 2) your priorities may change in positives ways because you trudged through real depths of shit. 

As for the bank / career, I would run a secret job search process now to see what you can uncover near your parents home. Look corporate too, because even if local, banking will suck so much time out of your schedule your head will spin. Another poster mentioned you will regret not seeing your parents through this. I agree in a sense that you cannot let yourself be absent, but if paying for some full time care is made possible through your employment, time away from an ailing parent can be relieving as well.

Also, there is no way to know upfront how long the illness lasts which makes it impossible to scale the opportunity cost of your sacrifice. In that sense, I don't recommend being fully "stay at home" because if this drags on and on, you should be happy you can still kick it with your dad and not sad that you "gave up your career."

Alls to say is that this sucks, it will be hard, and you need to find balance between work, caretaking, and pleasure to prevent yourself from going insane. You didn't mention prognosis  and I don't want to pry. If the prognosis is good, banking may be possible; if not, don't do Wall St. 

Unfortunately I've been through this myself and despite all the twists and turns and conversations, I don't have concrete solutions. I can say with certainty that I could not handle the decline and death of a parent with the demands of a bank. I quit during that process and honestly the mind fuck of the whole thing still makes me quake. You spend years of your life aiming to achieve a goal and life throws such a curve that you completely stop caring. If it's really serious I'd recommend a 40-50 hr / week job with no weekend obligations so you can keep an eye on your folks. Get a brand name corporate on the resume and maybe no need to be sad you walked away from the big time. 

Stay tough man. 

May 10, 2022 - 6:39pm
Sumooooo, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Really sorry to hear. Realistically it would be very hard to do IB and spend time with your family. Maybe see instead of IB if you can do a remote job with fewer hours so you still have income but can also spend more time with him? Most decent financial industry jobs will require a fair amount of work, but if you can find a 9-5 or if you can take that financial hit for a few months and learn enough software development to be a Junior dev (if you don't have any experience) then you can try to go for those jobs? Software generally still has decent pay for better/ flexible hours on average and usually remote.

May 10, 2022 - 7:12pm
Elongated Muskrat, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In 10 years, regardless of what happens to your father (praying for a quick and speedy recovery), you will not regret putting your career on pause to prioritize being there for your family. I don't think the same can be said if you do the opposite. 

It also begs the question of whether a company that won't help an employee during a time of need like this is one you want to work for.

May 10, 2022 - 9:07pm
midmass207, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Strangely enough, I'm in almost the exact same situation as you. PM me!

  • Incoming Analyst in IB-M&A
May 10, 2022 - 9:51pm

HR is useless. Reach out to your group COO or a senior MD who has the power to do what you want. Also likely they have some experience with a family member that got cancer (unfortunate reality of cancer nowadays). Just ask for deferring your start by a year and spend that year helping ur dad and just spending time with him.

I lost my mom to Cancer and it gets very physically and emotionally demanding so I wouldn't want ur mom be going through it alone. Also, screw the bank if they say no, you spending time with your dad should be the top and the only priority. I hope and pray that he gets better and kicks cancer's butt.

May 12, 2022 - 12:16pm
HowlerMonkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is the best advice. Bypass HR and ask the group head if you can start next year. But make it clear the decision is agnoizing and you're appropriately worried about losing a spot you worked very hard to get. You may be in a more favorable position than you think. Given how quickly the market has turned, a lot of banks have probably over hired and might be pretty happy that someone who accepted an offer isn't going to take it. Since hiring next year won't fall to zero under any circumstances, they just move you out by 12 months and that's one less person they need to go spending a lot of time and money recruiting next year.

Oh - and get it in writing. You can diplomatically explain to them that you'll sign if they'll sign, but otherwise you'd need to hedge your bets and network / look for a backup opp. during the next 12 months.

  • VP in PE - LBOs
May 11, 2022 - 12:30am

So sorry to hear this. As someone who went through a similar experience (my dad's case was unfortunately terminal), you absolutely need to prioritize family over everything. Work will always be there, but your dad may not (although I am praying that is not the case for you). Agree with others that putting your career entirely on hold is likely not the best option as you will get stir crazy and feel guilt for thinking about your career. A good middle ground I would suggest is to work out a remote work arrangement with your firm with reduced hours / the understanding that you may occasionally be completely unavailable due to the family situation. As others have pointed out, a firm that does not accommodate this is certainly not one you want to work for. But firms like this will and do exist, so it may require some searching if your current one says no. I agree with another poster that HR is useless and you should go to a senior person you hit it off with and explain your situation / get his advice. After all, they see value in you and in today's hit job market, junior employees have more leverage than ever, so use it to your advantage. Wishing the best for you and your family.

May 11, 2022 - 12:55am
Analyst1inIB, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would talk to HR / Group Head / Staffer and quit if they can't help or delay your start date. You can always explain that when recruiting again and people will understand - family is way more important 

  • Intern in Consulting
May 11, 2022 - 1:55am

Praying for your dad man.

If this thread can help you with anything, it's that we're all human regardless of where we are in life. As everyone else said, talk to anyone who can actually help you because they're human too.

  • Intern in IB - ECM
May 11, 2022 - 2:37am

So sorry to hear this. For what it's worth, I had a personal health complication last winter, ~6 months before I was supposed to join as an analyst at a BB in July. I reached out to the group's staffer (didn't talk to HR directly) and she said I could defer the offer for a year and join the next class. She told HR to figure it out and got me a revised offer letter for a start date 18 months out. Not sure we'll have the same experience, but I'd talk to your group directly. They might be more helpful than HR.

  • Anonymous Monkey's picture
  • Anonymous Monkey
  • Rank: Chimp
May 11, 2022 - 9:01am
Anonymous Monkey, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Im so sorry, try to ask to start later but hr is the worst, try to reach out directly to the manager.

May 11, 2022 - 9:24am
YankinLondon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A few thoughts:

-Understand the commitment (time/duration), that provides the most support for your family/parents. Is it full-time for a year or weekends on a medium-term basis? If the former, try to get a 1-yr deferral, if the latter find a job closer to home

-Bring the ask to both HR (unlikely to do much, but you never know), and the senior banker (MD) most likely to go to bat for you in group if it's the deferral route

-Absolutely do not place the role over family, it's the wrong choice for 99% of people, and you won't be in the right headspace to really deal with the grind when you think there's something much more important you should be doing

May 11, 2022 - 12:14pm
RandomAccountant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Hey I'm sorry to hear that. Something very similar happened to me with my brothers medical condition getting much more severe and I was the only one able to help my Mom take care of him. This was pre-Covid so before all of the wfh stuff, so with wfh not being an option I tried to defer but alas it did not work out for me and I let the position go.

My 2 cents would be first reach out to the team you are starting with and see if you can work virtual, barring that see if you can get a deferment for a year so you can help with your dad, and if that all fails start looking at other opportunities in your area.

If you get a deferment any job that is flexible will help you and your family pay bills while still letting you help with your dad. As a place to start - a lot of city governments around me supplement their accounting and it work with pt professionals that pay pretty well for the area - around $25 to $35 and hour. Now you won't be rolling in dollars but they are fairly flexible and when I did some work for them during college I could start at 5am and leave around 1pm. Any other gigs would be fine since you would be starting with your offer after that year.

Now if deferment fails or it becomes more long-term I would checkout what options are available to you locally starting with if there are other banks in your area. If there aren't any I would check out all your other opportunities there.

I personally started with Big 4 as my back-up and it's worked out fine so far. I would recommend as a backup, if you cannot defer your IB offer and there are no local firms in your area, checking out the transaction advisory and strategy transactions groups in the Big 4. I know PwC and EY have quite a bit more openings here in the southeast and PwC would allow virtual work. The virtual/wfh environment for big 4 has allowed me to do the sudden emergency room visits and be able to still help financially. I also know depending where you are corporate development for real estate groups and firms are hiring a lot in the southeast and there are other options like FP&A and maybe an FDLP or two. 

Sorry that you are experiencing this. It sucks and it's a grind no matter what both emotionally and physically. But you'll get through it. Just don't forget to also take of yourself. Hit the gym, go out once in a while. Best of luck with everything. 

May 11, 2022 - 12:22pm
dafftt, what's your opinion? Comment below:

You are going through an agonizing period, but putting your life on hold may end up causing additional anxiety to your parents, both due to the financial impact as well as impact to your future. Hard as it may be, joining the BB in July may be advisable. It is a bright spot for both you and your parents in what is otherwise a difficult home life. Plus it brings a decent recurring income. Delaying your start date could place you in a dicey situation if the economy tanks and a hiring freeze goes into effect (though it's possible your personal hardship story may qualify you for special treatment).

If you decide to start in July, perhaps your parents can relocate to be closer to you if your dad will receive comparable care on the west coast and insurance covers the same.

Hope the treatment works for your dad and the cancer goes into remission.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
May 11, 2022 - 4:37pm

I know some firms allow deferral by a year. You can ask the more senior bankers regarding this if HR is not budging.

I am also processing grief right now (not family issues, but a relationship loss) and it is really, really hard.

Please let yourself go through the emotions and don't let it bottle up in. It will be very hard in the beginning, but it will heal slowly.

Sending you all the love and good luck as much as I can.

May 11, 2022 - 5:06pm
ENlGMA, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I would go directly to your group, and depending on the dynamic of your group possibly the group head and explain to him the situation on a phone call.  They should be fully supportive of you and work with you on this.  Whether that means taking some time off or working fully remotely.  There's no excuse for them not to do so, and if they don't then you 100% don't want to be working there anyways because if they can't accommodate you in a time of extreme family hardship and need then they won't accommodate you for literally anything and you'll know that they have zero respect for you as a person.

My group has had everyone from Analysts to Directors take extended periods of time off for maternity / paternity leave, to visit family overseas, for mental health breaks and for personal / family hardships.  We all pick up the slack because it's just the right thing to do for these scenarios.

May 12, 2022 - 2:15am
YabberShneebs, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sorry to hear that man, wishing the best for you. I want to repeat what everyone else has been saying, it's absolutely worth quitting your job to spend time with your dad if it progresses in the wrong direction.

May 12, 2022 - 9:05am
Frieds, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Since you posted anon, PM me. May have some specific advice for you that you should be aware of for treating here. 

As far as the job goes, if you know your placement, reach out to your group head and escalate this. This is going to have a huge impact on your team, and get him in the loop. This means being proactive with things (ex. on-site for training, suggesting working out an On-Site/Off-Site routine - such as coming into the office One Week in 6, planned around your father's treatment schedule) and making sure you're ahead of the curve and on point, while working remotely.

As others have said if they cannot or are unwilling to accommodate, look for something local in order to be close to family. 

  • 3
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
May 12, 2022 - 10:34am

I am really sorry this is happening to your family and you. It's never easy, but I would echo what many here are saying. I'm in a similar position but am ~1 year into my AN stint and am looking to quit soon due to family health complications. Have tried on my end to balance family obligations, but it's just not possible to handle both as a junior analyst in IB. I've had an ASO blow up on me for not responding quick enough while I was dealing with family situations that are outside of my control and they were well aware of it. Although overall my team is great, this does put pressure on everyone given the expectations of this job. Eventually, even if your team is somewhat accommodating, you may start to feel guilty for not being as available or fear being graded as a difficult / unavailable AN. However, for the exact same reason(s) no money or prestige or whatever it may be is worth more than your loved ones…..PM me if you'd like to talk about this. I'm in a similar boat and appreciate you being honest and bringing this up within this forum. Gives me another perspective and with everyone's responses here, more certainty to care for those who broke their backs raising me. 

May 12, 2022 - 11:01am
ambitious giraffe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Nothing to add, but praying for you and your dad

May 12, 2022 - 12:12pm
negativecashflow, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Super sorry to hear this man, and just want to echo what everyone else is already saying here- it's a hard situation to be in but I hope nothing but the best possible outcome happens. I think if you were talented enough to get this gig in the first place, you will have no issue doing it again. Cheers

May 12, 2022 - 2:18pm
Adj. EBITDADDY, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Sorry to hear man. In tough times like this, the best you can do is be united with your family.

Going through something similar, 15yo brother got diagnosed with a brain tumor last Thursday. Thank god we secured a top-class surgeon in the best hospital in the country (LatAm).  Monday was the surgery and everything went terrific. Waiting for results from the lab, hoping the tumor diagnostic is favorable and a low-risk type of cancer. Couldn't imagine going through this all of this alone. 

Jack of all trades, master of none
  • 1
May 12, 2022 - 11:42pm
EatClenTrenHard, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What a fucked up world we live in where this even has to be asked. All of us selling our souls for what, a fuckin check to get a bigger house, a nicer car and a hotter wife. Praying for you n your pops homie.

In terms of actual advice, I would start at the top of the food chain, group head, and work your way down the organization until you find the team member you have a stellar relationship with. Confide with them your current situation, and that you're looking to defer or take reduced work load for the immediate future. Let them go to bat for you, or with you, they'll know the group dynamics better than you and hopefully help to carry a little bit more weight. Good luck. DM's are always open if you need something. My grandpa just got out of his 3rd lung cancer surgery, grandma just started chemo for lung cancer and my dad is waiting for results post prostate cancer surgery. We will get through it my friend.  

  • 4
  • Intern in IB-M&A
May 13, 2022 - 3:40pm

All I have to say is that I lost my dad completely unexpectedly at the end of December (not from cancer). It is easily the worst thing that's ever happened to me. Like you, I am an only child so I was very close with my dad, but I didn't realize until after he died that he was my best friend. I miss him so much each and every day, and I would do anything just to see him again. As passionate as I am about finance, my take is that spending time with your family comes first. You will have many more opportunities to build CIMs and DCFs, but you may not get another opportunity to spend time with your dad. I hope my perspective helps.

May 13, 2022 - 4:03pm
zzfishstick, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Honestly, the bank should let you push your start date or give you a sabbatical or unpaid leave or something. This is what a humane boss would do. If they have a problem, then f them. Time with your dad right now is priceless. Prioritise it above all else. 

May 14, 2022 - 10:54pm
Insider Intern, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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May 16, 2022 - 4:09pm
the_goose_is_loosee, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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