Dear Abyy | Man’s decision to keep cancer a secret could impact others
Dear Abby: I’m writing in response to the man who wants to keep his cancer prognosis secret until he nears the end (“Keeping It to Myself,” Jan. 11).
My mother was diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer that had spread to her brain. Her dizziness is how we found out. She didn’t want to tell anyone for a while (which surprised me because she had always been a drama queen and a hypochondriac), but she ended up telling. It was the best thing she could have done.
The four of us kids were there with her through her treatments, she became much closer to the sister she had spent decades hating and she found out who her true friends were. Mom lived four years, until she finally passed in 2006. It’s still raw for me. But I’m grateful for the time we had to get closer and share our lives.
I hope “Keeping” takes your advice and tells his friends. If he does, he may find these hard times to be some of the “best” times. That’s what my mom said. – Claudia in New Jersey
Dear Claudia: Thank you for sharing. I opened the question to my readers, and like you, most – but not all – agreed with my answer. Read on:
Dear Abby: As a former cancer patient and licensed therapist, I’d urge “Keeping” not to share that information if he doesn’t want to. Truth is, not all people who hear the news will be supportive. Some will avoid him, some will pity him, and others will say amazingly inappropriate and unhelpful things. A prognosis of two years is a long time for people to react to him – and for him to handle their reactions. I found it stressful to cope with the emotions of others as they reacted to my situation. Until “Keeping” is ready, he should be cautious about with whom he shares his diagnosis. – Lyn in New York
Dear Abby: After chemo and clinical trials failed to contain my husband’s cancer, he was told he had less than a year to live. We had already shared the initial prognosis with family and friends. Loved ones from near and far have visited him, called and emailed. Their visits have done more for his quality of life than any drug, and have probably extended it.
“Keeping’s” next two years are a blessing and a gift. I hope he uses every moment wisely. – Debra in Texas