who to tell

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who to tell

I have a dilemma about who to tell regarding a family member's cancer diagnosis. I will try to explain the situation as clearly as possible. My auntie G has a number of neck and head cancers. She has only recently had them diagnosed and has told her husband and two adult sons. One of those sons told me (we are cousins). She is very sad and is experiencing a rapid deterioration in health. My auntie G has a brother H, and a sister L, who don't know about the cancer. Her sister L is my Mum, the brother H is my Uncle. The three siblings live in different countries about as far apart as possible from each other. They had a fourth sibling, their brother F, who died two years ago from cancer and they all had time to make a trip to his country to see him before he died. They are all thankful they had that chance. With this new cancer diagnosis of my auntie G, I feel like my Mum (G's sister) would want to know. And I feel that my Uncle H (G's brother) would want to know too. I would say that its G's decision, but it would break my heart if her condition deteriorates much further before my Mum finds out. I imagine Mum will be sad to find out, but she would be so much sadder if her sister dies before she can visit her, and then she finds out that I knew for any length of time and said nothing. I can imagine many reasons why G wouldn't want the world to know, but my Mum is my Mum and I want to do the right thing by her most of all. Please help me decide what to do - tell my Mum her sister has cancer or not?
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Occasional Contributor

Re: who to tell

Hello , sadly you are in a no-win situation. If you tell your mum " without permission " then your Aunt might get angry and if you don't tell her then your Mum might get angry. I don't think this is a case of who you like more or who you are more loyal to. My view is that only your Aunt has the right to tell and presumably she will be making those decisions with who she chooses. If your Mum senses your sadness you may have to infer that there is something wrong but you can't say. Of course you can let your Aunt etc know your concerns directly if you are able to otherwise I would suggest not saying anything. Hopefully your Mum will understand. Good luck. I suppose I should also say that I have cancer so my answer could be interpreted as being " biased " towards the patient. Personally I have told everyone as I feel liberated by telling and the truth does set you free etc however I can still respect the right of the patient to tell or not tell. Good luck again.
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Contributor

Re: who to tell

I agree with the previous answer. Also these decisions are fluid and so a person can change their mind as their treatment or illness shifts so your Aunt may change her mind as time goes on.
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Re: who to tell

Thank you for your comments. I spoke with my cousin who is the one that told me the news. I said that I feel I should tell my Mum because she could at least support my cousin even if G doesn't want anyone to support her yet. He agreed. I told my Mum and she was very upset at the news of course, but also very glad to know. The path forward at this stage is that she will call my cousin and support him - he needed to be able to talk to someone I think. It was tough on him that his Mum had cancer but he was banned from talking to anyone about it. He is the one who reached out to us and so we are reaching out to support him. I am not 100% comfortable with my decision to tell my Mum about her sister's cancer. The reason I did tell is because I weighed up the cost of telling (perhaps my Auntie may be mad at me), versus the cost of not telling (my Auntie's health deteriorating or worse before my Mum is able to see her sister again and my cousin being denied his request to talk to his family about his mothers illness. When I thought of it like that, I decided I needed to tell my Mum.
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Re: who to tell

Thank you for your comments. I spoke with my cousin who is the one that told me the news. I said that I feel I should tell my Mum because she could at least support my cousin even if G doesn't want anyone to support her yet. He agreed. I told my Mum and she was very upset at the news of course, but also very glad to know. The path forward at this stage is that she will call my cousin and support him - he needed to be able to talk to someone I think. It was tough on him that his Mum had cancer but he was banned from talking to anyone about it. He is the one who reached out to us and so we are reaching out to support him. I am not 100% comfortable with my decision to tell my Mum about her sister's cancer. The reason I did tell is because I weighed up the cost of telling (perhaps my Auntie may be mad at me), versus the cost of not telling (my Auntie's health deteriorating or worse before my Mum is able to see her sister again and my cousin being denied his request to talk to his family about his mothers illness. When I thought of it like that, I decided I needed to tell my Mum.
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Frequent Contributor

Re: who to tell

I think you did the right thing. I can see both sides of this, too. Your position is the more substantial one. The 'right' to control information is not unlimited, or unmoderated. Targeting people to 'tell' is unfair and contravenes other 'rights'.
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