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Should We Tell? / by Juhi Kunde


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Should We Tell?

September 12th, 2012 - by Juhi Kunde


I am drained and tired. I have nothing to write about. My ideas are stupid and my words are cliché. I can barely draft a complete sentence.

Why am I so fried?

Because I just found out someone dear to me has cancer.

I keep trying to read as much as I can about it. But all I have is the generic name of the cancer. And I can only go so far with that on Google. I need more information but the family is reluctant to tell me more.

They know that I will attempt to gain control of the situation. They know that I will be up late at night scouring the millions of cancer pages on the internet for hidden answers. So, they speak in circles and make me dizzy with worry.

I wonder if it could be a cultural thing – an Indian thing. Maybe it’s an artifact of immigration. Or perhaps it’s just that modern families are often spread across the country or even across the world.

In so many families the question arises: Should we tell them?

Whatever the specifics, the basic scenario is the same: the family is split-up. Typically, the parents still live in their home while the kids have grown up and moved away. Then the inevitable case of poor health strikes someone, somewhere. And the question rears its ugly head.

Most families have an unspoken understanding of some sort. Often minor illnesses, such as colds and ear infections, are safe to keep from the rest of the family but anything requiring a cast or hospitalization should be disclosed.

In these situations, most family members want to hear the news, however bad it is. But sometimes the other family members are unwilling to burden them.

They don’t want them to worry. They don’t want them to spend hours on the internet instead of working. They don’t want them to buy expensive last-minute airline tickets.

But they also don’t want to lie.

So they tell partial truths. Or they “forget” to mention the critical details. Or they pretend the reports have been delayed.

The irony is that all these antics to avoid causing worry could be causing far more concern than the naked truth would have.

Obviously, my preference is for sharing the complete truth but I know there have been situations where I had to think long and hard about who to tell and how much to tell them.

What about you?

Did you have to decide how much to tell your family about your cancer journey?

Did you have to decide whom to tell?

How did you make these difficult decisions?

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