To tell or not to tell

19 Dec

“I have seen cancer at close quarters. Even my dad was treated at the Institute, when I was at the tender age of 17. You know something…. for someone to go through chemo is very painful. I know everything about cancer.”

An excerpt of the conversation that Suresh and I had with an acquaintance , one of my fellow volunteers for the Cancer Institute Foundation. He was reminiscing about his father’s struggle and we felt sorry for him. I could sense that Suresh was trying to steer the conversation away from the topic and successfully did too the moment he got a chance. You could see a small genie on either side of my head , one asking me to share my C saga and the other shouting “Shush..Not now..” .

I think this is a question everyone faces , depending on the circumstance , whether it be their health,monetary or emotional struggle. Sharing it with someone may either make it better or worse. There have been times when I have shared my health history , just to pep up someone, so that they would not feel bad about their situation. Once, when I was helping a friend , explaining about one of my surgeries, just because she needed help and asked me,only to encounter a face filled with horror. Seriously, not something I expected and I certainly don’t enjoy talking about my past.I did it because she asked and really wanted to know.

Sometimes, you encounter people who are not empathetic though they might be sympathetic. And again, there are others who feel disgusted or depressing.Anyway, five years into remission and I am still not comfortable talking about it to normal people . I really admire celebrities like Lisa Ray who are able to share their struggle with the world, especially after reading some of the comments where people talk nonsense. Some people even post about Lisa in their blogs, not understanding what pain it really takes. It is very different to talk about it than experience and feel it, IMHO.

“To tell or not to tell” ! Sigh ! But YEAH ! Five Years !


Posted by on December 19, 2009 in Life Philosophical Thought


8 responses to “To tell or not to tell

  1. karthi

    December 21, 2009 at 11:32 am

    what can a pedestrian personality like me have to say to a dynamo like you. nothing profound.
    nice manicure! XOXO from india 🙂

    • shoba

      December 21, 2009 at 1:03 pm

      Thanks Karthi.. Convey my wishes to uncle and aunty as well..

  2. sri

    December 21, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    Not sure what to comment since it is difficult to understand from first person’s perspective.
    Sharing with people who we think will be compassionate seems to be the right thing.

    Nice pic!

    • shoba

      December 22, 2009 at 11:06 am

      Happy to see you comment for this.. Its always easy to share with close friends 🙂

  3. Nourish-n-cherish

    December 23, 2009 at 11:32 am

    You may not like this comment, but I am going to say it anyway. When you share with close friends, they partake in your suffering. The magnitude, depth, texture and perspective of the suffering differ – (it has to!), but they suffer too, and in that overlap, they are with you. I am not saying it is easy for the person going through it – far from it. But, I think, it will be easier if we share our experiences.

    Sometimes, I find sympathy helps, and sometimes not. But, the shroud of secrecy we cloak around suffering makes suffering more of a punishment than it should be, don’t you think?

    Regardless, to each his own way of coping. Lovely 5 red toe nails!

    • shoba

      December 24, 2009 at 1:52 pm

      Firstly, I am not offended by your comment.
      Secondly, I agree with you 100%. Friends and family are the pillars of support for one to go through various hardships and mine have been so. And definitely, even if one person goes through physical suffering, there are numerous others undergoing emotional pain at the same time at various degrees. Most hardships, be it physical, emotional or financial, affects lot of people and not just an individual. I guess I did not make it clear in my post. I was talking more about acquiantances who one may not know very well rather than friends or family. For ex, here is a scenario, I was once talking to one of my acq whose mother recently passed away and while passing my condolences, mentioned that I was also a survivor. He started crying and just walked away from me, making me feel guilty of having kindled his pain.. Do you see my point? I just dont want to unintentionally hurt or in the process get hurt myself too.
      Sometimes, silence is golden.

      • nourishncherish

        December 31, 2009 at 4:54 pm

        Well…in those cases, we don’t know how people will take it. Gut feel is the only thing I guess. Some people will be heartened while others not.
        So, it is better to err on silence

  4. Hema

    December 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Hi Shobs,
    I know it is tough. But from my experience, I think it is better not to share too much with acquaintences as it does not really serve much purpose. If they are grieving already, it makes them feel worse and if they arent, they just feel sad or sympathise at the face of it, maybe for as long as your presence is there. Then, its all back to normal. And there is no energy that you can draw fromthem for your own spirit too.
    Hence, lesser shared about personal hardships, the better. As you rightly said, think family and close frends would be the right choice to let your heart out.
    God bless.


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