Disclosing Your Health Condition
The decision about whether to tell people about your condition, who to tell, what to tell them, and when is a purely personal one. There is no right and wrong. Each disclosure is likely to be a unique experience.
In general, there are three situations in which the question of disclosure arises. What you decide to do may vary in each situation. The three situations are:
- Family, Friends and Acquaintances
In each situation, consider:
- The pros and cons of telling.
- What to say before you tell.
- When and where to tell.
- The likelihood of varied reactions, including disappointing ones.
By and large, professionals strongly encourage telling unless there is an overriding reason not to. Keeping a secret is stressful. The greater the secret, the greater the stress. Stress hurts the immune system. The immune system is needed to help your body function at its best disease fighting capacity.
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- Prepare for disappointing reactions. Some ways other people have found helpful to deal with disappointing reactions to their news of a diagnosis are:
- Be patient. Give people time to live with the news.
- Find support for yourself. Also consider looking for support for the other person.
- Try to think about the news from their point of view.
- Be reasonable in your expectations.
- Talk about your feelings about their reaction.
- It is worthwhile to pay attention to your friends behavior and words. Some may want to hear about your treatments and symptoms but not your emotions, or vice versa. You may need to speak with different people for different conversations.