One of my pet peeves: when celebrities don’t disclose the type of cancer that they’re battling. They could at least devulge it in their obituary. Most of the rest of us disclose it. Obviously I’ve done so much more. I’m not implying everyone needs to be as open as I am. But come on: inquiring minds want to know!
It isn’t bad luck or karma to talk about cancer and dying, you know. If anything, there’s an emotional benefit to go along with the all important awareness and educational components.
I get that a cancer diagnosis can be emotionally devastating and viewed as a private matter. But holding this type of information too close to the vest does a disservice to those of us working so hard to raise cancer awareness. For example, check out this excerpt from today’s Washington Post, What kind of cancer killed them? Obituaries for David Bowie and others don’t say:
When Denise McQuighan died in March 2014 at the age of 55, Thomas McQuighan, a Maryland government contractor, made sure her obituary left out the exact kind of cancer. During her life, she only told two of her girlfriends that she had a combination of multiple myeloma and leukemia. She worried friends would treat her differently and had little interest in hearing anyone else’s well-meaning suggestions for treatments.
“The cause of death was leukemia, but that leukemia came about from other therapies she had,” McQuighan said. “It’s an irrelevant question. She was a private person. What does the average person know about multiple myeloma? Nothing.”
But when Bowie died, McQuighan immediately had questions: “The news said he had cancer, and I was like, ‘Which one?’ But then I said, ‘Does it really matter?’ If he had the same one my wife did, I’d say, ‘Gee, I wish they had a cure for it.’ ”
Denise Mcquighan may not be a celebrity, and I’m sorry for her husband’s loss. But imagine the conversations that may have started as reader’s asked, “How and what other therapies caused Denise’s leukemia? You and I know she most likely developed MDS, triggered by chemotherapy she was taking for her multiple myeloma.
Why no allogeneic stem cell transplant? Too toxic? No good match? Not enough time?
“What does the average person know about multiple myeloma? Nothing?” That may not be far from the truth. Of course, with open conversation and disclosure, maybe they would. Awareness might even save a life.
Here’s a link to Ian Shapira’s article:
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat