Are you ashamed or embarrassed of having cancer?

New Contributor

Are you ashamed or embarrassed of having cancer?

Hi there,


i am wondering if anyone is feeling ashamed or embarrassed by being diagnosed with cancer. I sure did. 


Doctors told me that I could continue to work through the chemo treatments and that gave me hope but I didn’t want to be treated differently at work or home and kept my diagnosis very quiet. I did not want my business to be affected, I didn’t want my daughter to be embarrassed of my bald no eyelashes no eyebrow look. (She is 7 yrs old and doesn’t get the transformation).


I hear doctors telling me that eventually my cancer tumor will be long forgotten and that they trust I will get better but in the meantime,  how do I hold on to my future if I have to go through this bastard process? And so I thought to keep it a secret so I can bounce back without much effect. 


 I don’t want people to feel sorry for me so I have been masking myself behind a wig, makeup and a fake smile so that I can continue “being” normal but it feels like I am putting on a costume and I don’t feel authentic. I don’t want my clients to think that they cannot trust me with work because I am sick and I am a liability. I love my job and it brings me joy.


I am not enjoying the special attention due to cancer. I wish life with cancer could continue to be normal but I feel that society puts us on a petty shelf. I know people care and my friends and family love me. My clients and business associates want me to get better and they are all good people but for me a normal daily life (aside from the diagnosis treatments) is what would give me a sense of purpose. Something to help me get my mind away from cancer. 


I would love to hear your stories about how your spirit feels and how cancer has affected your character.


I can find information on-line about diet, sideffects, Self healing, holistic healing, meditation, how to do look good and feel good, and how to deal with diagnosis but nothing about how to deal with the shock to our innerspirit and our character. Cancer is such a shock and the transformation is inevitable.  


This  is not just about looks, it is more about our character, our spirit and the personality adjustment. 


I have been seeing a therapist to help me with my process and I highly recommended to all. This is just me being curious about other people’s stories. 


Much love to all and look forward to finding inspiration from your stories.







Occasional Contributor

Re: Are you ashamed or embarrassed of having cancer?


I'm more embarrassed on the transformation of the chemo tmt.


In recent days my hair started falling out

Regular Contributor

Re: Are you ashamed or embarrassed of having cancer?



I wouldn't use embarrassed to describe how I felt, but I've had similar issues.


I didn't want to have work colleagues treating me with sympathy or avoiding me. When it happened to other people, I was the avoiding type. Then I saw other people who would make a big deal about it for affected people, which seemed patronising. I didn't  want any of that, so I tried to hide it from work colleagues,  but people sense things are abnormal when there are many sudden medical appointments that you can't put off. You can't hide it very long. Eventually, I had to come clean, but I felt ashamed for not being upfront about it.


I want to appear strong and capable, not weak or as a victim. That is my professional persona. Thinking about it now, by hiding it, I have probably displayed what I wanted to hide. 20/20 hindsight.


I read a few things online and the message I was receiving was not to block people out. I still only focussed on telling closest friends and family. I feel I may have always been mistaking care and empathy for sympathy. Everyone I have told has been supportive and I don't want to use Cancer as a method to get something I would not usually ask for. If people say they will help me out with anything, I won't be reaching out unless it's something I would have done before my diagnosis. However, the fact that they've said it is nice. They've let me know they care.


I'm a private person and so is my wife. We don't want this to create an overwhelming intrusion into our lives from various do-gooders when our remaining time as soul mates is so precious. I've become comfortable sharing my news and receiving their well wishes with dignity intact. If anyone thinks I'm weak or playing the victim, I'll just put it aside and let them makes fools of themselves. My time is too precious to waste on them. My career is no longer my focus. The things I do with the rest of my life are most important to me now.





Regular Contributor

Re: Are you ashamed or embarrassed of having cancer?

Hi LG,


Yes, I felt the embarasment too.  I didn't want everyone to know as if it was some judgement on me.  Somehow my fault.  Something I did or didn't do.  You just have to come to terms with the fact that you've been diagnosed and it is a shock to the entire system.  I just have to remember that bad things happen to good people.  I watched a film called the C word and it heped me to get things into perspective.  


I have adenoid cystic carcinoma of submandibular gland and it starts when two genes just decide to switch on.  It's not genetic or inherited.  Still doesn't make it feel any better.  I was diagnosed in May 2019.  Very early days yet.  Starting Radiotherapy later this week following surgery on 10th July.  I think the diagnosis also makes you go from fiercely independant to suddenly dependant on others and that's a difficult adjustment.  I had retired earlier this year so it's completely changed my plans and trajectory.  


Unfortunatly, it's a shock and luckily you're getting counselling to help you deal with the shock.  It's also quite traumatic because you're dealing with something you hoped would never happen to you.  I think it take time to comprehend all the new information and changes.  Just take it slow, day by day if you can.  I hope things improve for you greatly and that the love and support around you, help you get through this in the best way that you can.

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