How Much Do You Want to Share?

Hester Hill Schnipper, LICSW, OSW-C Program Manager, Oncology Social Work

APRIL 27, 2017

Making good decisions about sharing cancer information can be tough. One quick way to divide the world of cancer patients would be those who tell everyone, including the cashier at the market, about the diagnosis and those who don't want to tell anyone at all. Which side you are on may also change depending on circumstances. I find that many people do not choose to share news of a recurrence as broadly as they shared word of an original diagnosis.

As you may know, I write a regular column for Cancer Today, and this is the most recent:

How Much Do You Want to Share?

Determining what to tell people about your cancer requires careful thought.

Many people are open to sharing the details of their cancer diagnosis with just about anyone—even strangers in a grocery line. Some choose to tell only close family members and friends about their diagnosis. Others struggle to even say the words aloud.

Sometimes, the nature of your cancer treatment determines what you must tell. If your treatments don’t interfere with daily routines, it could be possible to keep the information confidential. If you need time away from your regular life or if treatment affects your physical appearance, however, it may be more difficult to be silent.

Consider how much information you want to share in three major spheres of life: personal, professional and on social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. In our personal lives, we may worry that divulging the cancer news will change relationships. For the workplace, there are laws to protect those with health conditions from overt discrimination, but you and your employer will likely need to discuss adjustments you will require as you go through cancer treatment. Finally, social media has changed everything about how we share personal information. Once you mention your cancer on social media, you lose some control over who sees it.

Read more of "How Much Do You Want to Share?" at Cancer Today. 

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
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