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Home / Health / My mother kept her breast cancer diagnosis secret from me. It's an all-too-ordinary story.

My mother kept her breast cancer diagnosis secret from me. It's an all-too-ordinary story.



"So are you all right now?" I asked feeling more like I was the one hit by a truck. She said yes, we hugged and that was it.

But I was not feeling well. I was angry, hurt and shaken. I felt like an afterthought. I wondered if my mother thought I was this fragile child who could not handle anything critical even though I was 16. What if I was really so incompetent? The thought made me doubt. Even as an adult, I sometimes feel paralyzed by stressful situations and question my ability to get through them.

It's not uncommon for parents to deprive their children of a serious diagnosis, such as cancer, says Evan Imber-Black. Director of the Center for Family and Health at the Ackerman Institute in New York. "I think parents often think they need to protect their children from that knowledge, that it's too annoying."

Shame can also play an important role in helping parents keep their illness a secret, as well as fear of their counterpart the reality of the situation. For example, Vered DeLeeuw, a San Francisco-based blogger, believes that her father saved his Parkinson's disease from his adult children for four years because he did not want to be pitied.

"We tried to respect his obvious desire not to talk about it," says DeLeeuw. "But it was incredibly stressful to know that something was very wrong with a loved one, and not being able to talk or offer support."

How different cultures consider disease also plays a role in the family's secrecy.

Jeanny (who preferred not to reveal her surname for privacy reasons), a business consultant from Sunnyvale, California, says it is normal in Asian cultures for parents to conceal a serious illness from their children. Although Jeanny was 35 years old, her parents refused to tell her only daughter that her mother had breast cancer until the disease disappeared a year later.

"I felt angry, robbed, cheated, unloved and abandoned," says Jeanny. "Ironically, these were the general feelings I grew up in in my traditional Asian-American family where emotional phenomena, connectedness, and genuine love and care for family members are not practiced."

While parents may think that protecting their protected children from pain by staying in the dark can actually do more harm than good ̵

1; for everyone involved. Researchers at Columbia University investigated the implications of 13,000 secrets, noting that their retention often led to concern, diminished confidence, and reduced life satisfaction.

"says Imber-Black," Because children are very good detectives and know when they will be deprived of something. "

When younger children believe that their parents are keeping a secret, they often face the worst case Even if this is the case, not trusting children into the truth leads to more fear and resentment than to love and support over the course of life [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music]

The mother of the musician and writer Adam Cole hid her multiple sclerosis I talked about him for six years when he was only twelve, and Cole has terrible assumptions about it

"I thought my mother had a psychosomatic illness that was all in her mind, and that has unnecessarily reduced my attention to her," says Cole.

Black says keeping an illness secret also isolates the sick parents and creates a gap between them and their family. This was also reflected in the results of tests that were conducted at Columbia University specifically to secret holders. Such isolation can lead to emotional and physical fatigue because hiding such important things requires effort.

However, there is a way to fill that gap, and it starts with the sick parents choosing the first, hard talk with their children.

This is easier said than done, especially when it comes to teenagers who are prone to blow up proportions, and to small children who may need everything, which is simply explained. It is even more difficult when sick parents hold back their diagnosis for a long time.

Therefore, Imber-Black recommends visiting a family therapist with experience in dealing with people with illness. She helped parents tell their children by playing role-playing games without them. For two parents, sometimes the sick parent plays the child and the healthy parent plays the sick parent to change perspectives. Then they analyze how it went and set up a plan for the actual enlightenment.

The diagnosis made to adult children poses a number of challenges, even though their children are still young enough to live at home can affect many aspects of their daily lives. That's why Imber-Black emphasizes that this should not be a one-time event.

"It's a process," she says. "It's never a statement, there must be at least occasional talk about what's going on, how it works, where we're at and how much a child can pick up at any one time, then stop and take it another day

You want to be careful not to overtax your children by talking too much about the disease It is good for them to learn that their parents are not invincible, but it is also important that they [But] Stay open to questions from children, "says Imber-Black.

Although it initially feels strange that Their children comfort you, this is not only okay, but also encouraged.

"Sometimes parents think this should be just go one way," says Imber-Black. "No, it should go both ways , "

Keeping something as life-changing as a serious illness on your children can be a heavy burden on you and your family. However, sharing it with them can only strengthen your bond and help everyone to make the journey to the future.


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