Fresh Living

bryant_gumbel.jpgI didn’t see the Today Show this morning, when Bryant Gumbel revealed that he had undergone surgery for lung cancer two months ago.  But reading news accounts of how it went down (video of the segment is not online…yet), I’m captivated by the question:  did he really want to share his health news with the world?

From what I’ve read, Gumbel was substitute-hosting the show in Regis Philbin’s place (Reeg is out recovering from hip replacement surgery).  When co-host Kelly Ripa asked Gumbel to dance for the audience, he declined.  I’m not sure how many times she asked, but eventually he said, “I can’t. I have a note from my doctor.”  Then, the bombshell news about surgical removal of malignant growth, subsequent treatment, and now–thankfully–recovery.

It’s possible (likely?) that the turn of events was pre-planned as Gumbel’s way of letting the world in on his health situation.  But it’s also possible that the whole thing took him by surprise, and he felt pressure to divulge information that he had wanted to keep private.

There are many reasons to keep health concerns private–from wanting to keep up “normal” life as much as possible to wanting to minimize friend-and-family worry to good old fashioned denial.  There are also many reasons to share, from the need for support to logistical help getting to doc’s appointments to staving off feelings of isolation.

The “to tell or not to tell” question is what Gumbel’s disclosure brings up for me–in addition, of course, to wishing him continued healing and recovery.  Have you ever wrestled with the line between privacy and isolation, the decision of who to let into the scary world of an upsetting medical situation?  Where do you come down on when to share health news?

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