THE BLOG

The End Of The Process: Should I Tell Anyone I Have Cancer?

Apr 21, 2014 | Updated Jun 21, 2014

This is the end of The Process.

The first set of scans since I completed my radiation treatment in January came back clean: There is no sign of Merkel cell carcinoma anywhere in my body. Although I will continue to be monitored for the rest of my life, it's now time to move on.

If you're reading this you already know that I not only told people I had cancer, I did the digital equivalent of shouting it from the mountaintop by writing a 15-part series about it on The Huffington Post.

What you don't know is that I initially decided to do the exact opposite: I didn't want to tell anyone.

Part of the reason is that I work in city where weakness -- including having a disease -- isn't acceptable. Here you typically first have to prove you can overcome a problem for people to give you credit for dealing with it. That's why my instinct was that it was better not let anyone know than to give everyone a chance to assume the worst.

My Beautiful And Talented Wife (The BTW) knew of course because she was with me when I was diagnosed. But I didn't tell any other members of my family.

At first, the only person I told was the managing partner in my firm just in case The Process made it impossible for me to do my work. But I asked him to keep it confidential because I didn't want anyone else in the office, especially those who I worked with most closely, to know.

My feelings started to change when I told the senior trainer at my gym. I had to: He was going to have to adjust my training when, as virtually all the other members of Team Stan told me would happen (but never did), the radiation treatments made me too fatigued to continue the high-intensity workouts I was doing. At his strong recommendation, I let him tell the other trainers at the gym who would be working with me day-to-day.

Two things happened when those five other trainers found out.

First, the clouds didn't immediately darken, my calls to and from clients and the media were still returned and I wasn't coddled or pitied.

Second, and more important, I realized that I had a great support system beyond Team Stan.

So I decided to let all of the members of my biggest client team at the office know, and I assumed they would tell others. Again, the sky didn't darken and I wasn't treated any differently than I had been before.

That's when, immediately after I moderated a panel discussion on which she was featured, I accepted Arianna Huffington's offer to write The Process for all to see on The Huffington Post.

The response to The Process was immediately so positive that I completely changed my opinion and started to talk openly about what I was going through.

One particular event says it all.

I gave a speech a month ago to an organization that for the past decade has invited me to appear at its annual conference. It's a group I love addressing and with which I have developed a very strong personal bond.

I was going to begin my presentation to the 350 people in the audience with a brief discussion of all the changes that had happened in the federal budget over the past year. But before I mentioned the deficit, fiscal cliff and government shutdown, I first talked about what had happened to me. I told them that my firm had been acquired and that my blog, "Capital Gains and Games," had moved to Forbes.

And although I absolutely had not planned to do it, I then said that over the past year I had become a cancer survivor.

There were no gasps from the audience, no one hid his or her eyes and no one moved to a chair further away from me or left the room.

Instead, I got a standing ovation.

This is the final installment in what has been a continuing series of blog posts by Stan Collender about his experience fighting cancer. "The Process" Stan is describing began last August.