Kate G
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Diary of a "Fake" Cancer Patient - to tell or NOT to tell ....

Kate G
Posted by
24 Apr 2014

Being a watch & wait patient delivers its own unique set of challenges & dilemmas, one which most recently springs to mind is whether or not to tell people that I have cancer. You see, once it is out there, you can’t take it back & the risk that you run is that people will treat you differently once they know. So what to do? …

I battled with this one for nearly two years, telling people on a need to know basis, & probably caused myself a great deal more stress in the process. It got to the point where I didn’t know who knew what & having tied myself up in knots decided to “come out” about my cancer. Eventually I posted a message on Facebook, 2 days before Christmas in December 2012, when I wasn’t in work for a few days just to get it out there. I felt that my little announcement would be immediately overtaken by Christmas & that by the time I went back to work it would be common knowledge & I would continue to be treated as Kate rather than Kate with cancer, & largely that’s what happened ….

When I meet new people, it’s difficult to get the balance right & it’s probably to my advantage that with a marriage break-up behind me, I’m relationship averse, but it has crossed my mind that telling potential/new partners could be a real problem for others in my situation. After all, when you enter a new relationship, most people worry about when first to use the Love word, but at what stage are you supposed to introduce the Cancer word? If you do it too soon, you may frighten them off but if you do it too late they may feel that they entered into a relationship under false pretences, that you deceived or that you didn’t trust them. And that’s the reality of watch & wait - there are always other considerations when doing things that most people take for granted & sometimes you feel like you are almost living a lie.



Hi Kate,

I, too, found it tough to know who to tell and when. I was diagnosed with CML just a week before I was scheduled to go to university and didn't want to tell my friends at a time when they were embarking upon a new chapter of their lives.

Fortunately, I went on to make a full recovery but remember finding it difficult to know what to say to people when I eventually started university the following year when, in hindsight, I wasn't advanced enough in my recovery (3 months post transplant) to go.

As you say, I didn't want people to view me as the guy with leukaemia and wanted them to get to know me as a person. Ultimately though, I've come to realise that like it or loathe it, leukaemia was and remains a big part of who I am as a person and whilst I don't want it to define me, I'm happy to tell people about it.

In my experience, the vast majority are understanding and won't treat you any differently (unless you want them to) and those that aren't are not really worth knowing. The same with prospective partners.

Hope this helps and thanks for sharing!