Friday, April 6, 2018

When Do You Tell Family and Friends About the Diagnosis?

In Today's Dear Abby advice column--in many US newspapers --the question and opinions--about whether to tell or not tell about a serious or terminal diagnosis. The column is in response to an earlier one where a man did not want to tell.

Abby shares her readers thoughts--yes to tell because it may lead to many loving interactions and maybe some reconciliation, or no, don't tell--keep your privacy and yes, we know people do say the most thoughtless things.

All valuable and valid points. Here's a link to the column:

But here's what is not considered: the impact on the caregiver in either scenario.

If the patient does want to tell then that impacts the caregiver, and if the patient does not want to tell
that impacts the caregiver too. Does the caregiver have any "rights" or consideration? That can also go both ways:

Telling can mean more support for the caregiver but it can also mean intrusion and expectations from others that increase the "work load." and not telling may allow the couple more intimacy and privacy but also limit the desired support for the caregiver.

The roles are not equal. The caregiver needs people to talk to. If it isn't from a support group or family--what will be the source of support.

This may be one of the trickiest things for a couple to negotiate in a cancer diagnosis...whose illness is it and who needs what kind of support from whom.

And also a question about workplace issues: if the choice is to keep the secret or privacy of the patient can the caregiver tell at work? how do they access FMLA or time-off to care for the patient.

All this to say it's not one sided or a simple issue, and it carries its own tensions at a time when fear and tension are flowing freely.

No comments: