Hi, I am returning after three years. For me the key was enrolling in graduate school. I will now be working as nursing faculty for a local college.
Have you looked into working for an agency which supports individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities? I have worked in this relatively unknown field for 12 years and I really love the work. I work for a not-for-profit in Oregon, so the pay is a little less, but I get excellent time off (6 weeks), and 10 holidays per year. This may vary state by state, but I know we are in desperate need of qualified nurses in this field and most agencies are willing to train. You can reach out to your local Department of Human Services to identify agencies in your area. They also often have contract work available.
Some hospitals offer Bridge Programs for re-entry. Calling local hospitals before Fall will answer that question. Good luck!
Explain why you haven’t been working. Employers are more understanding and the fact you have 19 years experience will help greatly. Is your cancer in remission? That would be the question on their minds and how dependable you would be because of it.