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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 05:56 PM
Original message
Need advice
Edited on Fri Jan-28-05 05:58 PM by rhino47
My sister has a very serious illness.Ovarian cancer.She asked me not to tell anyone else in the family.I have 3 other sisters.We are all very very close.More to each other then to our parents.
The advice I need is this.Shes on very borrowed time.I have not told anyone not even my husband .I want so much to respect her wishes but I feel that I am stealing the limited amount of time my other sisters have with her.
What to do?
Thanks in advance.
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TNDemo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 05:58 PM
Response to Original message
1. Why does she not want them told?
Maybe ask her if she would want to know if one of them was dying. Your parents and siblings may have things they really want to talk with her about and won't have the chance once she's gone. Maybe after talking it through with you for awhile that will make sense to her.
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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. She didnt say why she didnt want them told
She was so upset I didnt want to press her.
She knows without a doubt all of our lives would stop as we would go to her side to help her.This has always been the case when one of us is in distress.
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Spinzonner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:00 PM
Response to Original message
2. I think you have an obligation to honor your sister's wishes

but I also think you need to understand why she wishes to handle the situation this way before you make a final decision.

And you have a right to try and convince her otherwise. But do it for concern for her as well as your other sisters.

And try and find a middle ground or do it in a way that she understands, though that seems difficult under the circumstances.
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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:05 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. I really have no idea how to find that middle ground.
She was very insistent that I not tell them.I did not press her.She just had her 2nd treatment and wasnt doing well.I just didnt have the heart to chastise her into letting the all the sisters share her pain.On the other hand I will never be able to hold this secret to myself.All my close friends know my sister.I can not discuss this with them without betraying her trust.I am so tempted to let one of the other sisters know and let it go from there.I am worried the danger in this is when a person is sick enough dignity has been taken from them,I would hate to reinforce that by making a decision on her behalf.
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Spinzonner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:15 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. A decision you make now does not have to be permanent

You are entitled to change your mind and commitment as the circumstances change.

But to do that you need to know how critical her situation is so that a temporary choice doesn't turn into a permanent one. I don't know if the doctors will speak to you on thismif she is lucid and in control of her treatment. But there's nothing to be lost by asking.

If you are sure that you will not be able to keep the secret, then you need to decide how you will handle revealing it so that is comes out the best it can - under the circumstances - rather than in a way that is contrary to your intentions.
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MichiganVote Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:02 PM
Response to Original message
4. Talk over what has become an unreasonable request
You have a right to change your mind but play it straight, talk w/her first. Offer her the opportunity to tell them herself. Perhaps she is having trouble accepting it herself. There is a distinct difference between maintaining privacy and keeping a secret. They won't blame her, they'll blame you once they find out you knew and kept it from them.
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Left Is Write Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:49 PM
Response to Reply #4
20. I agree with this -
The loved ones left behind will blame her, and possibly be angry and resentful, that she kept the information from them.

It's not an easy situation, wanting to right by both her ill sister and the rest of her family.
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RagingInMiami Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:03 PM
Response to Original message
5. I think you should tell her how betrayed your family would feel if they
eventually learn they were kept in the dark. You need to stress to her that you want to respect her wishes, but you feel compelled to break them.
You need to convince her how important it is for the family to be there with her.
And if she still doesn't give you her permission, I think you should tell them anyway, but let your sister know you're going to do it in advance.
You might be betraying her wishes, but at least you'll be upfront about it and she'll understand why.
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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:10 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. I think that might work RaginginMiami
though I really do not know how much time I have.
I am wondering if its measured in days,months or a year.
I am taking a crash course in ovarian cancer.I am not thinking its looking good.
I think with your words though that explaining to her this is a better shared is a great idea.I thank you for your thoughts.I think I will tell her before I tell the others.
I will still have a hard time coping with betraying her.Shes the everything ! She really is weak right now.
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Spinzonner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:08 PM
Response to Original message
7. Is she currently in a medical facility ?

If so, perhaps you could ask to speak to counselors there to get insight into why she might wish to handle things in this way.

If she isn't - or in addition - you might contact a hospice organization and tell them of your situation and ask them the why and what to do questions. You're not obligated to follow there advice, of course. DO indicate you're not asking them to intervene without your sister's permission.
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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:14 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. She is currently in a hospital.
This had been going on for sometime.I cant say exactly how long she knew.I want to howl to think she dealt with this all alone until now.
I do not think hospice was contacted.I will talk to the hospital staff to see if I can get a counselor to see her.Great idea.
I need all the ideas I can get.I really am at a loss.This feels like too much for me to handle in silence.
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Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:12 PM
Response to Original message
9. Did she just recently find out?
She may still be in a state of shock, and just doesn't know what to do. I wouldn't tell anyone just yet, but I would talk to her about her decision.

I know that if I found out I had a terminal illness, one of the hardest parts would be to tell my loved ones. She may just want some time to sort her own feelings out, first. I'm so sorry you're going through this. :hug:
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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:15 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. I am so so sorry you had to go through a terminal illness.
I am not trying to insensitive but how did you handle it?
What can you tell me ran through your head?What helped you deal?
Anything !! would be helpful if its not too painful for you.
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Pithlet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:28 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. I've never been through it
I'm sorry. I think you misunderstood my post. I was trying to think of how I would feel if it happened to me. I think that is impossible, though.
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Rowdyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:19 PM
Response to Original message
13. Keep your word...In 1998 I was diagnosed with a serious illness
Edited on Fri Jan-28-05 06:20 PM by Rowdyboy
A friend badgered the information out of me, promised to tell no one, and broke her word within 15 minutes. I have not yet, nor will I ever forgiven her.

Keep your word and respect her wishes.
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Spinzonner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Was it terminal ?

(Obviously not)

Ovarian cancer usually is because it almost always is detected late.

That is material to the issue in terms of irrevocability. By the time her sister would be willing to change her mind - or even no longer able - there might be much lost emotionally for all parties.

There is no perfect solution in such cases. Even honoring her sister's wishes has cost for all and sometimes one has to attempt to try and separate wishes from needs. They may not be the same.
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Rowdyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. Not terminal....Requires daily medication but no other
real limitations. But thank you for caring enough to ask. I appreciate it :hug:
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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:29 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. Was it who she told ? or how she told it? or that she told at all Rowdy?
Also to say I am sorry for your serious illness is an understatement.
As I said we are very close.There are 5 girls we are all on year apart.I have always been a person of my word.The only reason I would ever think to break it (as I am now) is when my keeping my word would harm others.
On the other hand your statement brought to mind a situation I would like to protect Beth from.
The sad looks,the awkwardness of people when they know you are sick.I would not wish that on her either.The further loss of dignity.Being treated less then a normal adult.(I am not saying Beth is any of these things but I have seen how seriously ill people are treated like this by well meaning people )That had never entered my head until your post thanks Rowdy.
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Spinzonner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:35 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Those are all valid concerns

but it would be surprising if they were applicable to a family of sisters one year apart who are emotionally close as you stated.

And even that has to be balanced against the opportunity for mutual support.

That said, you need to have some agreement about keeping it closely held in the family to honor her wishes as reasonably as you can and to avoid overtaxing her strength.
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Rowdyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:54 PM
Response to Reply #16
21. I appreciate your concern...I was pretty ill at one time but that was
5 years ago. I'm in remission with only daily medication and no limitation on what I can do, eat, drink etc...Not bad!

The woman I told was a friend I rarely heard from. She then called my closest personal friend and told him to call me, that there was something seriously wrong. It forced me to tell him far sooner than I intended. I was going to tell him but I wanted to do it on my timetable, not anyone else's and I cannot forgive her for taking that away from me. I lost control of the situation just when I needed it most.
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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:06 PM
Response to Reply #21
22. I cant begin to imagine how that felt.
I think when someone is faced with a serious illness the feeling of life being out of control is rather pronounced.To take any measure of the afflicted persons control from them I would view as cruel.(as she did when she called your closest friend).
This is why I am really reluctant to go against my sisters wish.
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Rowdyboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:11 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. You are truly in a horrible position
and your situation is different from mine. At least give her a while if you can. And know my thoughts and prayers will be with you both.

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graywarrior Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 06:36 PM
Response to Original message
18. Offer to tell the family together.
And talk about it with her as much as possible. Talking things over makes the situation more acceptable because you hear the feeling "out loud" and they become less frightening. But, by all means, respect her fears, honor them and love her. She will soon want her entire family's support.
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rhino47 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:10 PM
Response to Reply #18
23. Thank you all for your advice.
I have decided to talk to her.I am going to be clear that I will respect her wishes.However I will explain that when its time I would be fully supportive when she is ready to tell the rest of the family.I will not say a word until then.
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jan-28-05 07:12 PM
Response to Original message
25. This is a tough one.
Ovarian cancer is so nasty, so deadly. And it seems incredibly unfair of her to ask you to keep this from the other sisters, especially if you are all so close.

Do you all live close to each other? Are the other sisters completely not aware that she's in the hospital? Are your parents still living? All of these are factors, although they don't determine absolutely what should be done.

Even if you cannot persuade her to free you from your promise not to tell, you must speak with the hospital psychologist (surely they have one on staff) to discuss all of this.

I'm trying to imagine being in a similar situation (I'm one of six, three boys, three girls) and how I'd feel if asked not to tell of serious illness, or if I were to find out only too late that I hadn't been told.

I know of a situation recently where a woman died of breast cancer, and she had never told any of her male acquaintances (she was single, never married, about 55) of the disease, but had told all of her close female acquaintances of it, but held each one to strict confidence.

It must be so hard to face one's mortality so directly and immediately, that maybe by trying to limit who knows, you can feel you have some sort of control when your life is being taken from you.

Know that you have the love of all of us.

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