Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sharing information

Today's topic for Wego Health Blog month is choosing what information to share.

When I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, cancer was the big C, I was young, and cancer was the killer. I quickly learned that the word cancer made people frequently run away from me. I grew to like 'selective sharing' and only sharing with those I felt were in on the 'need to know'. I didn't tell long term friends for sometimes decades.

At my second diagnosis, I said to myself, the heck with this, I am going to be a bit more open about my cancer and now am comfortable living a life that includes the word 'cancer'. This isn't to say I introduce myself to total strangers as someone who has been diagnosed with cancer. But there are times when I do openly talk about it.

I have two part time jobs. One of them is at a local cancer support organization. There I am quite open with that group as its full of people who have had cancer or who treat people with cancer. I think most of them are fairly aware of my medical background.

At my other job, they all think I know so much about cancer and its treatment because of my job at the cancer center. They do not know about my cancer, they just think I am incredibly unhealthy with a bad back, fibromyalgia, RA, tennis elbow, bad ankle, and more. They laugh at all my doctor appointments and tease me about my ailments. Sometimes I was tempted to tell them about it but then one day one of my coworkers said that every time she hears the word 'cancer', she just assumes that the person is done for. That was it. I no longer considered that as an option.

So how do I decide where to draw the line. I do not broadcast my ailments. I also don't feel the need to keep everyone, including family members, updated with minute by minute updates on the latest ailment and treatments. Sometimes I am more open about things than others. It really depends on the ailment, who the conversation is with.

If my medical issues do not impact the situation, I leave them out. If my medical issues do impact the situation, I may bring it up. If I am asked if I want to go to a museum, I will probably decline. If pushed I might tell them I simply can't stand around like that to enjoy the time.

The level of detail that I share is usually very little. However if a friend calls me up and asks about a specific medical procedure that I have had the privilege of undergoing because they are going to have the procedure, I am happy to share all sorts of details including pain level, hospital stays, recovery, questions they should ask their doctor, etc.

So maybe I still live by the 'selective sharing' on a 'need to know basis'. Maybe I haven't changed as much as I thought.

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