Saturday, August 10, 2013

CLL: More on to Tell or Not to Tell

The following personal note on whether to share our cancer diagnosis or keeps the battles secret was send by one astute and candid commentator in response to my recent post about George Duke.

This anonymous well written and considered comment deserves to be seen by more than those few readers who always check out the many thoughtful comments from my readers and fellow travelers.

I can so relate to the writer's experience of the pitying looks and the pre-terminal planning that a cancer diagnosis seems to foster.

Here is the comment:

The problem often lies in what you must reveal due to medical appointments. I went through a clinical trial and never missed a day of work except for days when I had infusions. I elected to tell a very small number of people who were in my direct line of reporting so they would understand my need to specify firm dates out of the office. Unfortunately a couple of those people chose to tell others out of "sympathy." Within a few days, I was inundated with cancer doe eyes, the sorrowful misty look one gives when talking about Old Yeller. Needless to say I was irate over my supervisors revealing a personal medical matter. Cancer puts you in the lineup of those due to checkout next. You are denied opportunities, treated as a lesser entity and suffocated by the premature sad news of your demise. I managed to set things straight by doing my job at a high level of productivity, much to the dismay and even annoyance of my family. But you can't show fatigue or you are out of the game. Some people started talking about my retirement, something I neither wanted nor could afford due to health insurance issues. We all have different circumstances and needs, but I would opt for silence.

Thank you to the anonymous writer.

You might also want to read my almost forgotten post from nearly three years ago written when Jill Clayburgh died of her CLL keeping her secret to the very end. So much has changed in those three years, but when I reread my thoughts from back in November 2010, I was pleased to see that I can still relate to what I wrote back then in what was a very different world for those of us with CLL.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't relate to what you are saying and the experience of others you have described.

I told everyone I knew about CLL, people I trusted and loved. In doing so, over time, my friends and close family deserted me, my church didn't understand and wasn't able to relate how ill I was nor provide me with the support I needed, eventually I left that church.

You see for me CLL, in combination with another chronic illness, made me very ill, so ill I couldn't work anymore and I lost my job, lost my career, my friends started to distance themselves and so did my close family, it was as though I were leper.

Now it is rare for any of those to phone to ask how I am, none offers to help; none visits; only my wife supports me. I use to be always the one who would keep in touch and phone and see friends and family, but now when I am in greatest need all I get is silence. Old friends busy themselves with self interest activities, I use to ask them to meet me for a tea or coffee but they always had some excuse not to meet, same goes for close family, I haven't seen my brother and sister for many years even though both are capable of visiting they choose not to. So I've given up hoping anything from them anymore. Even the medical profession has been woefully poor in providing support, so often I (and my wife) have been left to fend for ourselves.

Only now my life is close to the end does anyone seem to care, and those who do have been strangers, and at last this has got my sisters attention and she shows some concern and occasionally phones but alas it's usually a case of her saying something like "keep me posted etc.", same old habits same old complacency.

The strangers are people on CLL forums, people in palliative care, people who can relate to illness, suffering and ultimately have known people who have died. They provide words of comfort, they put an arm around you and hold you as you cry, they make you a cup of tea and offer you food, they help you walk and support you as you struggle to walk or stand. These are the real angels in this world, these are the people with love and compassion in their hearts, and these are the people who share your pain and suffering.

Yes, there really are good Samaritans in this world, however there are others who choose to look the other way and walk by on the other side, but the ones who have love and compassion in their hearts are angels in this world.

August 10, 2013 at 7:12 AM  
Blogger justme said...

Couldn't agree more with Anonymous writer, especially this: "Within a few days, I was inundated with cancer doe eyes, the sorrowful misty look one gives when talking about Old Yeller ... Cancer puts you in the lineup of those due to checkout next. You are denied opportunities, treated as a lesser entity and suffocated by the premature sad news of your demise."

I'm not so concerned about keeping or moving up in my job as to seeing the pitying eyes, etc... Since I'm mutated and haven't had treatment since diagnosis in 1/06, I would most likely have to deal the cancer label for quite some time.

Only my family (including extended) and one close friend know I have CLL.

August 11, 2013 at 6:33 AM  

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