Two things happened yesterday (well lots more than two things happened in my life but these two made me think) and I started thinking. How much and when do you tell your cancer story? This isn't as easy as you might think. Once you tell the world you can't 'untell' it. And people still have a tendency to put you in that special category of 'on their way out' once they hear that c-word. Would a hiring manager, ignore the C-factor when reviewing your resume? Would people start treating you differently? Would it bring the crazies out of the woodwork? Would friends start rejecting you? These are very real questions.
First and foremost, your health is no one's business but your own. If you choose to share, its your decision. No one should 'share' for you. It is not their story to tell. And second, how public do you want to be? Again, you can't undo it. Once its out there, it never goes back. But I will say that my blog was picked up by Parade Magazine last fall (scroll down, I am below the fold) and it didn't change my life. I don't think anyone read it.
Yesterday morning my husband forwarded me an email from work where a colleague's wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer. The email came from an employee who had spoken with the colleague (husband) and he thought his wife could use a plant or something (a plant? get real) and they were going to send a thinking of you card. I'm not sure what good a plant would do but a card might be nice. (I think a plant is husband-speak for I haven't got a clue but its a really nice thought to do something.)
When I was diagnosed my husband didn't bring it up at work because he didn't think it was their business (and I agreed). I did urge him to privately tell us boss that I was having health issues and that is why he kept taking time off to take me to treatments. But nothing was ever circulated through the office about me. I don't think I would want it.
Would you want your health to be emailed around your spouse's office? I would want to be consulted and ask what benefit would come out of it. A card is okay. A stupid plant not so much. A bunch of sympathy from people you don't know? Maybe if we socialized with my husband's colleagues and their spouses, but I do not make deep long term friendships through work environments. Work and friends are separate. So I guess I'm saying you can keep your cards and plants.
Later in the day I received an email from an online cancer community that Women Magazine is looking on Facebook for breast and ovarian cancer people to tell their story:
Breast and ovarian cancer survivors share your story! We love to include
survivor stories in our quarterly print issue. If you would like to
share your story in our fall issue, please let us know by sending an
email to email@example.com.
In the first nano-second I was going to send in my name. But then I took a second nano-second to say 'no thanks, I want my privacy'. I would prefer not to be put in the spotlight of national media. That's a big step that I am not ready to take.