For the past three years, Richmond, Virginia resident Connie Robinson has been fighting breast cancer. When diagnosed with the disease in 2009, she worked through her sickness until she decided to undergo chemotherapy. But because Robinson took time off work and “exhausted a federal leave act,” excusing her from the job, her former employer fired her with a severance package. And, when she rebounded and went back into the workforce—this time for a non-profit organization—she took ill again and was replaced at that job.

“I was blaming myself,” Robinson said, between tears. “What if I hadn’t taken the chemo?” Robinson missed the time frame to file a grievance, fighting for her life at the time. Now in remission and searching for a new job, her predicament is just one of the many cases in this country of people cut out of work, due to the health care system. “I hear case after case of patients telling me ‘my work is not good and if I miss a day, they’re gonna fire me,’” said Dr. Susan Schaffer’s Robinson’s oncologist.