I was surprised to read that Dorothy Hamill, the famous ice skater, was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t any more surprised than hearing that one of my neighbors was diagnosed, the difference is the world wide notification of the event. It’s easy to believe that if we’re not a celebrity that we can keep our health secrets to ourselves, but that’s an illusion.
There are obvious things that would tip off our friends and family that something health related was happening. Someone may notice pill bottles in a cabinet. Some treatments will leave the person without hair. Some people may have to use some sort of a device to help with mobility, other signs are a bit more subtle.
What’s not subtle is showing up in your doctor’s office only to find someone in your circle already sitting in the waiting room. That’s exactly what happened to me one afternoon and after the initial sense of awkwardness passed we could both release a sigh of relief because we didn’t have to pretend to each other.
The world is a much smaller place than you can imagine, especially with technology keep us linked together. You don’t have to share your health concerns with anyone, but be aware that you can’t crawl in a hole and be anonymous forever. Most of us don’t have the option of staying in our homes with health professionals coming to us until our health issue is resolved or markedly improved. We will be out in the world and you’ll find others are having similar struggles. Know you’re not alone, and that may be enough to provide a small nudge of support. It will at minimum reduce your feelings of isolation.