I don’t want to mislead you. So, let me be clear from the start. This post is less about how to deliver bad news and more about, well, me sharing some bad news with you. Nevertheless, in keeping with the spirit of this blog site, I will include some relevant tips at the end.
First, I want to share some terrible, personal news with you.
As you may know from some of my previous posts, the past couple of years have been a challenging time given my wife’s fight with Ovarian Cancer. Now that she continues to be in remission, we were looking forward to a happy, relatively normal 2014. Unfortunately, that’s not to be the case.
I have been diagnosed with Pseudomyxoma Peritonei (PMP), a slowly progressing abdominal cancer. PMP is rare. Medical professionals diagnose fewer than 1000 cases per year worldwide, according to some researchers.
At this point, I have no pain and very little discomfort. My only significant symptoms are a distended abdomen, an annoying cough from the pressure on my diaphragm, and weight loss beyond what I was shooting for. However, left unchecked, my condition would soon change for the worse. Therefore, in the coming weeks, I will undergo surgical treatment. This will require a lengthy hospital stay and recovery period.
Unfortunately, there is no cure or even remission for PMP. Treatment will beat it back. Then, I have to hope it comes back very slowly.
Now, and for at least the next few months, I need to focus 100 percent of my energy on regaining as much of my health as possible. So, I’ll be taking an indefinite leave-of-absence from my blog, professional life, and most social media activity. I look forward to re-engaging as soon as I am able.
Meantime, here are some things that you might consider doing, in no particular order:
• Be understanding. I apologize if I have been less than ideally responsive or difficult to reach in the past few months. If I have seemed a bit off my game, you now know why.
• Subscribe to my blog. From time to time, I will post brief updates here when I’m able. If you want to stay informed about my situation and my eventual return to professional life, I encourage you to go to the “Email Subscription” section in the right-hand column and enter your email address to subscribe to my blog. Subscriptions, for now, will remain free. Your email address will not be sold to third parties.
• Pray and/or think positive thoughts. During this challenging time, my wife and I welcome all healing thoughts and prayers.
• Be in contact with me. If the spirit moves you, I invite you to comment below or email me privately. While I might not be able to respond, please know that your messages will be welcome. One of the things I have enjoyed most about my blog is the feedback I receive from readers.
• Buy and promote my book. Ok, this one might surprise you. So, before you think me obnoxious, let me explain. It’s not the money that I care about. The truth is, authors earn shockingly little on the sale of each book. In my case, my wife and I have been donating the modest earnings to our favorite charities. Instead of earnings, what’s most important to me is that the information in the book gets out to as many organizations as possible. My book does not do anyone any good in the John Wiley & Sons warehouse. While I’m on leave, I won’t be able to promote my book. That’s why I need your help. Whenever I see my Amazon sales number doing well, it makes me happy because I know more nonprofits will raise more money and be able to help more people as a result. You can find Donor-Centered Planned Gift Marketing at Amazon (paperback and Kindle), Barnes and Noble (paperback and Nook) as well as other booksellers.
• Be there for me when I make my comeback. When I restart my professional life, I hope you’ll return as a reader here. I also hope, when the time is right, you’ll be willing to consider ways you might be able to assist my comeback.
• Hug those you love. Life is precious. It’s also precarious. Don’t miss an opportunity to tell the people you love that you love them. Give them an extra hug today.
Now that I’ve shared my bad news with you, let me distill my announcement into tips that might be useful to you and your organization if you ever need to deliver your own bad news:
1. Remember that problems, unlike fine wine, do not improve with age. The sooner you can appropriately share bad news, the better.
2. Be open and honest when talking about the problem.
3. Let people know how they can access more information.
4. Tell people how long the problem might last.
5. Share with people what you are doing to address the problem.
6. Empower people by letting them know what, if anything, they can do to be of help.
My list of six tips is certainly not exhaustive. Conversely, not every tip I offered is appropriate to every situation. However, I’ve usually found these six tips useful, and I hope you do as well.
I look forward to sharing additional useful information when I return. Meantime, you might want to look at my previous post that lists my “Top 10 Posts of All-Time.”
Thank you for your understanding and support during my challenging time.
That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?
UPDATE (April 11, 2014): I want to thank you and share some updated information. I greatly appreciate the outpouring of support. The positive messages and prayers I have received are definitely a source of strength during this challenging time. Thank you!!!
I also want to provide a bit more information, particularly for those from the PMP community who have been kind enough to share their support below. While I have received terrific diagnostic care in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania health system (Penn Medicine), I will be having my surgery done at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. My surgeon is Dr. David Bartlett, a leading practitioner of cytoreduction surgery and HIPEC. Dr. Bartlett is also a published PMP researcher. My wife and I have visited with Dr. Bartlett, and we’ve toured UPMC. We have a high-degree of confidence in the team. As a result, we’re hopeful of a successful outcome.
For those interested in exploring the PMP research that has been done, click here for an excellent listing and links.
UPDATE (June 10, 2014): I’ve posted a “Progress Report” about my health situation. It’s good news!