Disclosure, deciding whom to tell about a cancer diagnosis, what to say, and when to say it, is often a major concern for newly diagnosed women. Of course, this can be a later issue if, for example, you change jobs after treatment and have to decide whether to tell your new colleagues about your cancer history. Most often, however, it is a problem for newly diagnosed women who are dealing with the initial crisis, trying to maintain some privacy, and needing the support of others. Culturally, there are real differences among different groups, and some communities still react negatively to a cancer diagnosis.
Sometimes there are particular concerns: whether to tell an elderly parent who lives far away, whether to tell a manager who may be less than fully supportive, whether to tell a friend who is dealing with a major crisis in her own life. Each of these situations requires careful thought and examination of the options, recognition of which worries are truly your own and which are projective, and consideration of likely reactions later.
A recent study by Yoo and her colleagues looked at this topic. Here is a quote:
Emotion work: disclosing cancer
Grace J. Yoo & Caryn Aviv & Ellen G. Levine &
Cheryl Ewing & Alfred Au
Received: 20 October 2008 / Accepted: 19 March 2009
# Springer-Verlag 2009
Introduction Breast cancer remains one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality for all women in the US. Current research has focused on the psychological relationship and not the sociological relationship between emotions and the experience of breast cancer survivors. This paper focuses on the emotion work involved in selfdisclosing a breast cancer diagnosis in a racially or ethnically diverse population.
The participants (n=176) selected for this study were African American, Asian American, Latina, and Caucasian women who had been diagnosed with stages 0, I, or II breast cancer within the past 4 years. They completed an in-depth qualitative interview on selfdisclosure and social support.
The results indicate self-disclosing was done at a time when important decisions about treatment needed to be made. Different strategies for disclosure were used, all of which entailed emotion work. Respondents talked about the various elements of emotion work in the disclosure process including: managing others ' worry, protecting and soothing others, and educating and instructing others. For many respondents, disclosure without calculating emotional management meant opening up to others which meant support and an increase in emotional resources.
The findings in this paper have implications for women with breast cancer and demonstrate the need for women to be involved in honest disclosure and less emotional management of others ' feelings. There is also a need for education about the nature of the cancer experience among people who are not well educated about the treatment and consequences of cancer. This need may be even stronger among racial and ethnic minorities.
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