Who you gonna tell – guest post

Here is an interesting post from a blogger who describes herself as “SWF. 23 years old. BRCA 1 +. I’m looking to open up a dialogue for young people like me.” She discusses her choice of anonyminity as a cancer blogger.  I thought this might be a good topic for discussion.  My own experience is that most of the 900 cancer bloggers listed under Cancer Blogs are open about their identity.  Indeed many blogs are designed specifically to distribute current information about their condition to friends and relatives.  On the other hand, the need for privacy, even in the context of a blog, can be a legitimate concern.  Our anonymous blogger writes at The BRCA Diaries

Who you gonna tell?

So the other day my boyfriend and I are in my apartment entertaining my aunt and cousins, and they see a poster that I happened to receive at the Fox Chase In Our Shoes event. My aunt says, “That’s a great poster, where’d you get it?” I was about to blurt out “Oh, Fox Chase at this BRCA event” but then I realized… SHE DOESN’T KNOW. And I don’t exactly WANT her to know either. So I said something about an event that was for women at high-risk for cancer, thinking that sounded like anyone, and she didn’t question it. My boyfriend on the other hand started to press the issue… saying something about how I got it free because I was speaking at the event… TMI.

So it got me wondering… why NOT tell my aunt? I mean I’ve got this friggin blog out there for all the Internet and their moms to see, and I won’t even tell some of my own family members? I didn’t tell my grandparents either. My immediate answer is that they’re very prying people, and I don’t necessarily want to explain it to them. Also, it might freak my grandparents out… they’re old and decrepit and have their own health problems to worry about. So i’m protecting them, maybe even protecting myself from having to explain the whole thing. Saving my own breath. Maybe not the best reason, but my reason nonetheless for the time being.

I think the issue of who to tell is a hard one. If you want to be an activist, you’re going to have to tell people. You’re making the news public so you can encourage the public to care (which I’m all for, they totally should). But you have to be ready for what that means for you.

And then there are some people you have to tell for the good of your relationship with them. Your husband or serious significant other, for instance. Your parents, probably. Maybe your best friend? You want the support of these people, so you should let them in.

But I think it’s ok to keep it a secret from some others. I don’t think i’m a bad person… maybe a little bit selfish, but it’s where I am right now and I understand that and I’m at peace with it.

Oh… and on the issue of writing a blog, I’m here to connect with others who might share some of my sentiments. Not to publish personal information. And I’d like to think this is a little bit anonymous… I mean I’m not posting pictures of myself (YET) or giving out my address.


About Dennis Pyritz

Dennis W. Pyritz, RN, BA, BSN, has been a cancer nurse since 1987 and a cancer and bone marrow transplant survivor since 2004. In December 2001 he was diagnosed with t-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL), a rare aggressive form of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Dennis was treated with the then new monoclonal antibody, alemtuzumab (Campath) as this disease has a median survival of 7.5 months. He achieved a 26 month remission but relapsed in February 2004. He was retreated with Campath and went into a second remission. In August 2004 he underwent an allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplant with his brother, Mark, as donor. Dennis has remained in remission since - a near miracle. Throughout his career as cancer nurse and patient, Dennis has had the opportunity to speal to both lay and professional groups. Dennis has spoken on cancer topics and survival issues across the country as well as in the United Kingdom, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Trinidad, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Cyrpus, Israel, and India.

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