• How to keep loved one's cancer a secret....

    Asked by elvslack on Thursday, October 6, 2011

    How to keep loved one's cancer a secret....

    I'm caring for my sister as she deals with cancer that started in her kidney, but has found it's way to her bladder, kidney, and now has deteriorating intestines....she doesn't want people at work to know she's going through all these problems, but how do I continue to cover for her and not make it seem as if she's not as committed to her job? (we work together)

    10 Answers from the Community

    10 answers
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      This is just my opinion..... I would not keep it a secret. There are lots and lots of people that will help, cover for her, help her emotionally, financially, etc. Three times I have been through this, and each time I didn't try to keep it a secret, but I didn't go around telling everyone either. Just through those who knew about it, the word got around, I got calls of encouragment and offers of help from people who I thought would never even give it a second thought as to whether or not I lived or died. Now I am clean for the third time and I look for people who have been diagnosed and try to help.

      I wish you and your sister nothing but the best. Think about this and talk to her about the pros and cons of letting people know. You will be surprised what happens.

      Good LUck!!
      Greg Pierce

      over 10 years ago
    • elvslack's Avatar

      Honestly I feel the same way, but with my sister's wishes (demands), I have to keep it to myself while we're at work. She's so very stubborn and even cancer (which should be kicking her butt and keeping her in bed), can't defy her! haha...she's my boss at work. Small office. The place we work is a gossip mill, and my sis has always prided herself on being strong and in control. She feels telling anyone will make her look weak and people will pity her.....she's been told the chemo isn't keeping the cancer from spreading. I meant to put in my original post that the cancer spread from her kidney, to ovaries, liver, bladder....and she has seizures at night that keep her from sleeping....it's a tough road and I only pray she doesn't continue to endure the excruciating pain constantly. I do believe in miracles...the doctors aren't seeing much positive however :(

      over 10 years ago
    • CherylHutch's Avatar

      Well, I guess the bottom line is that it is her body, her illness and the one thing she has control over is whether she tells people or not. If it is her desire not to tell anyone, then those wishes must be respected, otherwise you are pretty much taking away one of the last things she has control over... no matter how much the rest of us may agree or disagree with that choice of hers.

      I am single, on my own (with my dog and bird) and have a mountain of friends, colleagues, family, etc. I could not more not tell them than I could not tell them if I had decided to travel around the world for the next year or two. It's not that I wanted their sympathy... I don't make a good patient in that sense... it's that I wanted their support and understanding. If I feel I can't go out and be my jovial self, then I don't want to feel I have to explain and I don't want anyone to try and convince me to go out if I'm not feeling up to it. The fact they know what I'm going through, it takes away any of that "feeling like I have to explain myself" or having someone else come up with a believable reason without telling the truth.

      On the other hand, I totally understand if you work in an environment that is a gossip mill. The last thing you would want is to be fodder for their gossip. Also, although this never was so in my case, I have heard horror stories where, once an employer finds out you are seriously ill, then they find some way (not to do with your illness) of letting you go... which of course then puts the patient in financial difficulty. If there's any possibility of that, then it makes sense to withhold that information from getting to the employer.

      The end result... we all may have our reasons for why we think we should tell folk and/or why we shouldn't and we each are entitled to our reasons if it should happen to us. The strength in a good friend or family member is when, even if they disagree with out reasoning, they will respect our wishes. The last thing you want is for your sister to not be able to trust you... in which case, she more than likely would cut you off from her "close circle" of confidents, even if you are her only one.

      So tread with care... and respect her wishes, as hard as they may be to follow.

      Good luck!


      over 10 years ago
    • Buckwirth's Avatar

      If it has spread, it may be time to look at her SSDI and LTD options. The stress at work is not helping keep the cancer at bay.

      over 10 years ago
    • onewithheart's Avatar

      I think your her friends should be known about her. Why we let her be alone, sad, depress, overwork in her situation now And then people can be regret. She need the sharing at moment.
      You should stay with her more, and more time with family and her. I don't know what should to do.i'm form vietnam . i'm in the same her. And I still cant let everyone know anything about me. so I understand what she does. I'm praying best thing for her !

      over 10 years ago
    • onewithheart's Avatar

      I think A day She stay with her families like the days was passed. This the most wonderful day. She wont want to change anything.

      over 10 years ago
    • mybirch's Avatar

      It's so hard to keep a secret, but as I read somewhere here, it's her body, on the other hand, it's both of your workplace, and you have feelings as well, how can you manage AND keep HER secret? I think that if it's too hard for you, IF there is anyone you CAN confide in, just to have someone to talk to, then you should have that.

      over 10 years ago
    • PhillieG's Avatar

      "how do I continue to cover for her and not make it seem as if she's not as committed to her job? (we work together)".
      Tell her that you will not cover for her anymore. I'm not suggesting that you SAY anything to anyone about your sister's health, but if someone makes a comment to you, say nothing. You shouldn't be put in that position. It's not fair to you nor is it helping her in the least.
      I would IMMEDIATLY ask your sister how SHE would like you to handle her cancer at your common workplace.

      While I totally understand that cancer is a difficult thing to cope with, I've never understood why people want to hide the fact that they have cancer. Cancer has nothing to do with one's character, it can (and does) happen to anyone. Many people find comfort in sharing their journeys with one another while others do not. There is no right or wrong way. When you have cancer I found that I really needed the support of others.
      Good luck to your sister and to you.

      over 10 years ago
    • BrandenC's Avatar

      I am the same way, in that I want very few people to know about my disease, but over time I found that it is helpful having a large support base while going through treatments/surgery. Beyond that people usually heal better when they are happy and keeping a secret is stressful and not beneficial to healing. Since your sister is just starting treatments it may take awhile for her to come around. Until she does keep it a secret, but keep reminding her that people like and are willing to help. I have to still remind myself of this after several years of continuing treatments.

      over 10 years ago
    • lovekitties' Avatar

      I can understand that she might not want all at the work place to know of her diagnosis, but certainly the 'boss' or whoever she reports to will have to know if it means time off from work to deal with appointments, treatments, dealing with side effects. It is difficult to know how another sees their situation. Having cancer and dealing with it does not make one weak. It takes much strenght both physically and emotionally to deal with it. Take with your sister about the 'why' and then see if she will come up with a list of even a very few that she feels comfortable telling. Sometimes, getting things out in the open gets them out of the gossip mill. After all truth is not nearly so entertaining as rumor. Best wishes to you both.

      over 10 years ago

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