After I received my breast cancer diagnosis, I chose to keep it to myself and not tell a lot of people. This wasn't my original plan, but after sharing this news with some people that I wasn't close to, I decided this was for the best. Their comments were like condolences, as if I were dying tomorrow.
It was too much to bear at the time, and I shut down completely after that. I chose not to tell others that I had breast cancer. I even decided not to tell some family members. I didn't want to deal with the after effect. I didn't want to hear feelings from other people about my cancer. I didn't want to think that letting them know could be better for them. I was the one with cancer over here.
Learning to share my journey with others
That non-disclosure period extended into halfway through my breast cancer treatment, until I met with a counselor through MD Anderson's Body Image Therapy Program. She suggested opening up to let others' goodwill and spirit help me through the journey.
I listened, and it did help. I had to learn how to manage my inner-response to others wanting to help and allow them to do so, but I did it on my terms.
Sharing my journey as a breast cancer survivor
Now that I am finished with my cancer treatment, I am experiencing the negative side of keeping cancer to myself. I have to tell people, "I had cancer last year and didn't tell you." That in itself is very tough.
I feel like a broken record when I tell my story and explain why I acted the way I did. If I could go back and have a do over, I would have told friends and family what was going on. But, you know what? It's OK.
I made the decision. I accept it, and those who care about me will too.
Remember this is your life. Decide for yourself how you want to tell the world and when -- on your time.