God bless them all – for they are our “rocks.” They are also all “too human” sometimes and they all react in different ways – and sometimes not in the way you would wish.
When I was diagnosed, as a single man I was immediately faced with the decision “who to tell” and “who not to tell”. As early detection seems to promise me a good outcome long-term, after the initial shock and CT scans and bone scans had shown I did not have any cancer spread elsewhere, I felt a small sense of being honest and open with people for two reasons.
One, I didn’t want my “outer circle” friends hearing wrong/alarming information from others when the prognosis is promising.
Two, I felt my story could be an encouragement to other men to “do the right thing” and get tested. I have to say that as a direct result of my experience just a short time ago, many others have been tested and plan to get tested every year from now on. Also, the questions I have been asked by much younger friends has left them much more enlightened – some of them didn’t even know what the prostate did until now.
Also,as a direct result of my diagnosis my brother went to get a medical check for the first time since 1996. It was discovered he was a type 2 diabetic and on top of that was experiencing leaking Kidneys. He was a walking time bomb. Thankfully now he is under treatment and medication and going through some serious lifestyle changes which will enable him to control his health better and live longer.
All this has been very positive and I don’t regret telling those I have told, however, there is a small downside and that is, some people do tend to “overreact” and sometimes the irony is not lost on me when I realise I’m the one constantly reassuring others that long-term I really am going to be fine (statistically). When one lady burst into tears on me, I
had to tell her “congratulations – you’ve just shed more tears than I have!”
One of my family members started phoning me each day until I asked her, why?
Daily phone calls are fine in my books, but given a long history of a phone call once every six months I had to point out to her she was acting as though I was going to drop dead anytime- and suggest that perhaps a nice balance of phoning just a little bit more regularly would be great.
I have to mention the worst incident of all that really did seriously upset me. I was at a dinner party with 8 people (very senior) around the table. For some inexplicable reason, our host suddenly announced to the table “Well, everyone knows- Dan’s got cancer!”
There was almost a gasp and a stunned silence. I was stunned and didn’t respond. No, hardly anyone knew about it – and no one wanted to talk about it. There was muffled embarrassment until someone changed the subject The night was ruined and as this happened just as dessert had been served I noticed that everyone made excuses to leave as soon as possible. There is no explanation as to why this happened other than those close to this person were at pains to tell me he’s known for making gaffes and really meant no harm by it.
I was told later he said to someone he went too far- good! I’m glad he realised because for me it was like being raped. He hasn’t come to me to apologise either- so that will slant my opinion of him from now on.
All this is just to say that IF you are in my situation and prepared to share openly with others- it is wonderful to receive the support, but as per my last story, some people will not always act (or react) the way you would expect them too.
If you are like me, you want to be open with those close to you but don’t want to become defined by your illness. It is a difficult thing to achieve because you are not in control. That’s the thing about this disease, you soon find out how little control you have- once diagnosed with something serious, you pretty well become a passenger on a train.
In the longer term I’m sure that things do get easier as others become more accepting and understanding and are better able to put things in perspective.
I have taken the view though, that as I have been open with people, this does have a positive effect on me. It helps to reinforce in my own mind the fact that I’m really not so badly off.
In as much as I have to get used to “the situation” – I suppose others too have to make their own adjustments and I just have to allow them time to do that. It’s just wonderful that they care and I never fail to appreciate the fact.