Dear Maria,

I’ve had some less than clear checkups lately that have led to additional tests. When this first started, I didn’t tell many people. I didn’t want to worry anyone. Now, a new round of testing has been ordered. I decided to tell a few more folks, and their reactions are what I expected: worry, too much concern, and jumping to conclusions before the tests are even done. I feel like I want to shut these people out who have made this situation more stressful for me than it needs to be.

What do you think about sharing medical information? I get confused about how much I should tell the people I love, who mean well, but are making a bigger thing out of this than it needs to be at this point.
Hoping for the Best

Dear Hoping for the Best,

It’s your body. You decide.

Every step of this process brings with it great unknowns: What will the test results say? What will my doctor recommend? What kind of treatment will this entail? Will my life continue as I’ve known it, or will there be some new normal? A million things swirl through the mind. And, though you don’t mention anything about fear, I suspect there’s some of that in you, too.

You are wise to be very selective about people with whom you choose to share your health information. This sounds harsh, because you may feel you owe an explanation to some people: relatives, coworkers, neighbors. See my first sentences, above. You get to decide who knows, and you get to decide who the cheerleaders are that you want in your corner. That’s it.

If your situation becomes such that it affects your work, then of course you need to inform your employer at the appropriate time. At this point, that situation is well down the road, if it exists at all. Take these tests and doctors’ visits one step at a time. Hold the best intention for the outcome. Sure, you’ll feel a range of emotions in the process. Give yourself permission to feel them all, and in the clearing, you’ll find your way to peace. Trust that you are in the hands of good care providers. If you have any intuition that this is not the case, know you have the option of different opinions from other care providers. You must be your own advocate. Take each step, holding in your mind and heart the highest good. In other words, no matter what comes, move with the deep confidence that you can handle it, and that it will be okay.

Stay tuned into your body. Eat healthy foods, and get the rest and exercise you need. These will contribute to a better state of mind, and position you to be in the best possible place mentally and physically for any procedures to come.

For me, prayer helps a lot. I pray, though, not for a certain outcome, but for the grace to handle whatever comes. Begin or rekindle a daily practice of prayer and/or meditation. Returning to the center, getting grounded, connecting with God, however you describe it, will be an anchor for you while questions and information swirl in your head. Do this daily, or several times throughout your day, and you’ll find your way back to peace. Plus, that’s where healing happens— when we’re in a calm receptive mode, rather than tense with worry and anxiety.

When will I learn there are no guarantees?
What strengthens hope, my eyes have never seen
But, it won’t be long till the faith will be sight
And the heavens will say “It’s all right”

I’m 100% in your corner on keeping your circle small. But, I also caution you to not be too quick to judge whether a person can handle your news. You are not responsible for how they respond to your situation. You are only responsible for your own response. Don’t add concern for their reaction to what’s on your mind. There’s a certain irony there: You are the one who has the condition, but you end up comforting others in their reactions. When in doubt, refer to the first two sentences, above.

Think of this as a marathon, and not a sprint. Pace yourself, stay hydrated, take care of yourself before and after the event. This passage of your life will summon inner strength you didn’t know you had, and bring people into your life who are wise, compassionate, strong, and tender. Bless it, and them.

Dear Readers: In a quandary? Life got you down? Need some perspective? If you’d like to submit a question, click here. I look forward to hearing from you, or “for a friend.” Please add your thoughts, and suggestions in the comments section, below. 

Disclaimer: The advice offered in this column is intended for informational purposes only. The opinions or views expressed in this column are not intended to treat or diagnose; nor are they meant to replace the treatment and care that you may be receiving from a licensed professional, physician or mental health professional. If you have specific concerns or a situation in which you require professional, psychological or medical help, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified specialist.  This column, its author, and the publisher are not responsible for the outcome or results of following any advice in any given situation. You, and only you, are completely responsible for your actions. We reserve the right to edit letters for length and clarity, and all comments are moderated.