Whose trust do I break?

Bill feels uncomfortable lying to his daughter, but doesn’t want to break his wife’s trust.

Whose trust do I break?

Bill’s wife has cancer, but she hasn’t told their daughter. Bill feels uncomfortable lying to his daughter, but doesn’t want to break his wife’s trust. What should he do?

Q. Bill
My wife has just discovered that she has cancer but, when our daughter visited recently and asked about the check-up, my wife told her everything was fine. When I asked my wife about it she said she didn’t want our daughter to worry, but I don’t feel comfortable lying to her. We never discussed not telling her. My daughter has the right to know, but my wife has the right to tell her in her own time. But if she won’t, whose trust do I break? My wife’s or my daughter’s?

A. It’s very common for people who are diagnosed with a serious illness to not want to worry their loved ones. In truth, most family members and close friends would prefer not to be protected from worry. That’s because worry goes with the territory when it comes to family and friendship. I wouldn’t break your wife’s trust, but I'd ask her to seriously think about how she’d feel if your daughter kept such a diagnosis secret from the two of you. Your wife needs all the support she can get and unless your wife doesn’t have a good relationship with your daughter, your daughter deserves the opportunity to be there for her mum.

Jo Lamble


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    23rd May 2014
    I know where your Wife is coming from--however --in the long run it is going to be harder for your Daughter to handle and come to terms with --she needs to be told and be able to get her head around it and maybe do or say things to her Mum that she needs to.

    Maybe explain this to your Wife.

    ((hugs)) to you and your Family
    23rd May 2014
    I found what I thought was a lump in my right breast
    It took me several weeks to be able to go to the G.P.
    I was not in denial but
    I had to think it through & all the possibilities / alternative, from the best to the worst.
    Weather I would have my breast removed or take the Hemlock.
    It turned out to be nothing.
    23rd May 2014
    How unfair! Doesn't want the daughter to "worry" but her poor husband then has all the stress of trying to be supportive with nobody to share it with. Surely her husband is also a "loved one"?
    23rd May 2014
    My sympathies go to you for being put in this position. I can understand your wife not wanting to worry your daughter, she knows her well, better than any of us. She is probably still trying to get her own head around it.

    But having said this, I work in a position where people are being told that they have cancer, and your wife is going to need a great deal of support, as are you if trying to help her through this.
    A positive outcome is always the most sought after and I pray to god this is what she gets, but it is a long hard journey either way. Your wife needs to think about her treatment, if your still working, how will she get to appointments and treatments, who will be there if you are unable to be, you won't be able to take indefinate leave. If you are ill, you won't be able to do the care for her that she will need at some point. Also as previously stated, this is your family and I am sure after all the love you have both given her, your daughter would like to be there to offer support to her mum.

    The earlier she is told, the better she will handle it, she can also attend Dr appointment with your wife and the drs will help her to understand the treatments etc, this does help many families and enables the in the support of their loved one.

    You will have to be patient and calm but also with your wife and explain to her that she is going to need every family members support and as a family should face these things together, her daughter would rather be told the truth and be able to assist in anyway, than be lied to and feel that she wasn't important enough to be included. AT the end of the day Family is important and love each other and will pull together when the going gets tough. My best wishes to you and your family.
    23rd May 2014
    Wise words, Mitch. Best wishes, Bill, to you and your family.

    26th May 2014
    He should tell the truth
    27th May 2014
    I think the woman in this scenario has the right to choose who and when she discloses her health issues. I imagine a person with cancer would possibly feel a loss of control, thus perhaps the decisions made re telling others is one thing she can control. I would hate to put additional pressure on a person in such a situation, however I am mindful that this scenario does put pressure on the partner, no easy answers.
    27th May 2014
    I would hate it if a close family member lied to me in such circumstance and denied me the opportunity to support them. Your daughter has a right to know the truth. If you can't convince your wife to disclose then you need to tell her that you will break her trust and tell your daughter yourself. We may think we are being caring when we attempt to protect people from the truth but in fact we are really running on a distorted premise that they are too fragile to cope with the truth. It is more caring to be honest.

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