I had dinner with an old friend last night, as well has her husband, and some of my family. I hadn't seen her in a few years just because both of our lives have taken us in different directions.
In talking, she shared that she had gone through a second breast cancer diagnosis last summer. And she had decided not to tell everyone about it. She told some people but not many more about her diagnosis, decision process, surgery and treatment. Why? Because she didn't want to and she decided there really wasn't a need for it. So she didn't.
I completely agreed with her decision and fully support it. Why? Because its what she was comfortable with. With any medical diagnosis, it is completely the patient's choice on how to handle it. (I mean unless there is an issue of lack of mental capacity.)
Seriously, the absolute worst thing that can happen to a patient if other people decide to share their diagnosis publicly. Imagine that you get a diagnosis and it ends up as the front page of your local newspaper? (This must happen to celebrities with the National Enquirer, and similar publications, all the time.) Or, you go to a theater and have the emcee start with a spotlight on you and the announcement, 'let's welcome Caroline and her newest cancer diagnosis'. That would really suck.
This is where HIPAA laws are important. It doesn't matter if you are the patient's friend or family member, its not your news to share so shut up! HIPAA laws should also apply to friends and family.