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Dear Jido,

My husband was recently diagnosed with cancer and has begun treatment. He has forbidden me from telling our friends or any members of my family about what has happened. Only one of his family members is aware of what is going on.

His insistence on secrecy is growing increasingly difficult for me. When family members ask why we are not accepting invitations, I mumble a white lie. My husband’s need for secrecy is isolating me at a time when we could both use the support and love from our friends and family. How can I convince him that a cancer diagnosis shouldn’t be treated as a state secret?

Signed, Secretly Ill

Dear Secretly Ill,

Here’s wishing your husband (and all others stricken with that terrible sickness) a complete and speedy recovery.

I can fully understand your husband’s desire for secrecy. He is probably a very proud and strong man (not arrogant, what some would call a mensch) and he does not want to display any sign of weakness or weakening. He might feel that he is invincible and this is affecting him in a way that isbeyond his control.

He may also be a sensitive man and not want others to feel hurt or sad that he is going through trying times. He is willing to take the hit himself and not want to burden others with this temporary problem. As his wife, you must stand by him. Difficult as that might be for you, he needs your support more than ever. It’s been shown over and over that a positive attitude is a key factor in recovering from the problem itself as well as from the periodic treatments.

My advice is to accept his desire for secrecy. You may want to attend an SBH Help Group meeting or have a counselor meet privately with you and him. Hopefully, this condition will pass quickly and life will return to normal with no lasting effects except the further bonding between husband and wife as they weather this storm together.

Refuah shelema, Jido