Approaching and Discussing a Sensitive Situation

opinion 1
After many years, I was recently diagnosed with an illness. Without getting into too much detail, this illness will most likely be terminal. Symptoms including headaches, body pain, extreme weightloss, nosebleeds, hair loss, nausea, and fatigue. For now I’ll be on medication but could eventually require hospitalization. I could live for years or months, it all depends on how rapidly I progress. My doctor, that I trust, has assured me that I can safely keep working at my normal pace for now as long as things stay as they are. I feel comfortable continuing my job as a nanny for now. My question is, when and how should I inform MB & DB of my situation? They are very understanding, good people. MB is actually a cancer survivor and I have been with them since their oldest was 3 months old, he is now 6. I have no desire to plan any major trips or check things off my bucket list. My family is close so I can still spend time with them. I want and need to work.


workingMom said...

"I want and need to work".

Because of this statment, my advice would be to hold off telling them anything until you physically cannot work anymore (or need to work less hours). I am not suggesting that you be deceptive; only to consider sharing your info on a "need to know" basis. The family doesn't need to know until you can no longer do the job.

Domestic workers generally do not receive things like paid (or unpaid) FMLA or unemployment insurance. Once the family learns that there will be an end to your service, they will begin looking to replace you - and may do so before you wanted to stop working.

I realize it sounds cold-hearted, but the fact is: you provide a service to them, and their primary concern will be to ensure smooth contiuation of that service, as to how it will affect THEIR lives.

This is not to say they won't care about you or be sympathetic to your situation - I'm sure they will. But care and sympathy won't pay your bills. The family might be so nice they will make you get well cards and bring you cassaroles...heck, they may even give you severence pay. But make not mistake - they will also search to hire a new nanny as soon as possible. The family will not want to play the "wait and see" game; they will want consistent reliability.

OP, I am not trying to be mean; I am being analytical. You need to be analytical too. And please accept my sincere condolences regarding your diagnosis.

hmmm said...

perfect advice.

MissMannah said...

I respectfully disagree with working mom. While I can see why she would have that opinion, I think it would be a bad idea to wait to tell your bosses. You said you would have visible symptoms so the family is going to notice something is wrong. Since you've been with them for quite some time, I'm going to assume you are close to them. My advice is tell them as soon as possible that you are sick and you will be experiencing this and this and that. But make sure you get a signed note from your doctor specifically saying you are able to work at the same pace so they won't feel obliged to replace you or cut your hours. If you will be needing to take regular time off for treatment, you'll need to tell them anyway so temporary help can be found. I also offer my condolences and hope that you will be as comfortable and happy as possible during this time.

ELam said...

100% agree with MissMannah.

I'm sorry to hear about your illness, take care of yourself.

Just My Two Cents Just Now said...

I also disagree with workingmom.

OP, you need to tell your bosses ASAP. Like Miss Mannah stated, you will be showing tangible symptoms of your illness and they will feel hurt that you did not tell them right off the bat.

Don't assume they will fire you based on being sick. I think the other way around since MB is a cancer survivor. They will most likely keep you on and let you continue to work as much as you can.

Sorry about your illness and I wish you only the best OP.

none of their biz said...

I would not tell them unless it effects your job performance. The nicest families can change when their nanny informs them of something like this. To think otherwise is naive.

StrawberryShortKakes said...

This is a tough situation to give advice on, especially because none of us know the family personally... only you do. I do have to say that I would want to tell the family asap, and not only because of the physical symptoms that will sooner or later start to show up. I think you should also tell them because it is better to keep open communication about big things like this. If, down the road, you have to take some time off for a doctors appointment or you are feeling too sick to go into work for a day, I bet they will be more than understanding. But, if you don't tell them and then all of a sudden you are missing days of work and taking time off and not your "normal self" I think they will start to wonder what is going on. Better to be an adult about the situation and be proactive about something as big as this. I also think you will be a little more at peace if it is out in the open. I must also say that yes, there is a possibility that they will want to let you go and start looking for a different nanny but if you make it clear that you will keep them informed on your health then I don't think you should be too worried- I say that only because you have been with them for quite some time and also because MB is a cancer survivor.

AMom said...

I'm with the group that says if you are able to still work and the illness shows no signs, then keep on working and keep your mouth shut until you are showing signs or cannot work anymore.

If they know now, there is a good chance they will let you go.

Momwest said...

OP, I really feel for you. I think the important thing here is that you work as long as you are able to complete your duties and not put your bosses' children or property in jeopardy. Continue working as long as you can do this and if the parents ask you if anything is wrong, tell them the truth. Until they ask you or you are unable to continue to safely work or you decide your time is best spent elsewhere, I would not bring it up.

Psyber Chica said...

From what you say, you do not know how long you have. You may rapidly start showing symptoms and they need to prepare their child for what may be the child's first experience with death. I vote for telling them ASAP. My condolences.

Bethany said...

I don't have any advice for when you should tell them, but I wanted to offer my condolences to you. take care of yourself.

ericsmom said...

I wouldn't say anything until you know deep down you can't continue working.
Even then you don't have disclose your medical history. I made that mistake one time on a job. It wasn't anything terminal. Just how I was hospitalized in the past for depression. It sure did spread like a wildfire in the office.

Prayers to you and your family.

workingMom said...

Psyber Chica said: "They need to prepare their child for what may be their first experience with death".

I so strongly disagree with this statement.

As a parent, I would not use THIS experience to teach my 6 yr old and younger children about death! Young children should be introduced to death via the family turtle or hamster's unfortunate demise. I think the death of a caregiver would be too traumatic for children younger than 10 yrs, especially if it's a slow death, where the dying deteriorates before your eyes. I would NOT expose my young child to that!

Remember, the MB has already had cancer. Whatever the older child/children remember, I do not see the parents allowing their children to experience anything similar so soon.

And yes, everyone needs to learn about death sometime, but as a parent, I feel it's my call to decide what age is appropriate to learn about it - and to what degree that life lesson is taught.

Again, I am sorry for your situation OP.

Katie said...

Maybe Psyber Chic meant that she should tell the parents so THE PARENTS could decide how to tell the children.
She assumed they'd keep her on and that they were the type to tell the children what was really happening once OP could no longer work and not tell the kids that she moved away or something.

Katie said...

Maybe Psyber Chic meant that she should tell the parents so THE PARENTS could decide how to tell the children.
She assumed they'd keep her on and that they were the type to tell the children what was really happening once OP could no longer work and not tell the kids that she moved away or something.

Katie said...

Only because you've been with them so long I would tell them.

Do they know you've been seeing doctors trying to find a diagnosis?

I'd tell them because they might wonder if you have to miss work all of a sudden. They need to make plans.

I also think you telling them might take some of the burden off of you. One less thing to stress about. I would show them doctor's note saying you're fine to keep working only if you feel the same.

I'm truly sorry and wish you the best.

Phoenix said...

each situation is different and it depends on your employer. Some people might freak out and replace you other will take pity on you. Only you can judge how your boss will take the news and if she is a cancer survivor you may get that benefit of her understanding.

If it were me, I would tell your bosses ASAP. Only because they need to be aware of your condition if you are ever too sick during the week. THey need to have a back-up plan incase you can't come in. Also do you drive the kids around? Will this disease prevent you from being able to fullfill your regular duties? all these need to be considered and you owe it to your employer to let them know you aren't going to last forever.

Psyber Chica said...

workingmom, this nanny has been with this child for most of his life. You don't just lie to your kid and say that nanny moved away...well, maybe you do. Death is a part of life. My 5 & 6 year olds had to deal with their father's death. Many grandparents die when children are young. Ultimatly the parents will decide what they want to tell their child, but whatever they choose to tell their kids, they should have the opportunity to prepare for this important person to be permanently leaving them.

noeladd said...

Wow workingmom I sincerely hope your children don't have to experience death before you feel they are ready. Unfortunately many children and families do not have that luxury. Ar you advocating lying to children to protect them from the reality of this life? Yes death is hard but it's also part of life. I don't think the children should be around the nanny as often when she is in the final stages of her illness but they should be prepared for the loss of a beloved caregiver.

Phoenix said...

why can't the chidlren be around their nanny in her final stages? Death isn't contagious

Phoenix said...

well not all the time. There are instances where certain things are contagious and cause death but I don't think this is one of those times

noeladd said...

@Phoenix I was thinking that it might be taxing on the nanny or very distressful to the children if they were around the nanny a lot in the final stages of the illness. If it's not a problem for either of those reasons the children should definitely be allowed to visit her.

Googlegirl said...

Whether you choose to tell the family right away or not is most certainly at your discretion.
But keep in mind, if you have visible symptoms, they will be curious as to what is going on. Also, if fatigue is a symptom, will you truly and honestly be able to perform your job as you always have? You and the family may need to find some new ways to ensure you are getting proper breaks and rest in order to stay strong through out the day. If you are taking medications, how will these affect your work ability, such as driving with children in the car? Will there be adverse side effects that could potentially put you or your charges at risk? Lastly, is your illness contageous in any way, shape, or form? While unlikely, even a scenario of accidental contact with the children should be considered. The parents should be informed of possible dangers (as i am sure you are well aware of if what you have is transferable in any way).
Weigh your options and make the decision that will work best for you. If your doctor says you are clear to work as normal, go for it. As problems arise, you may have to compromise with your family for what is best for everyone.
No one knows how this family will react better than you. It sounds like they will be supportive and kind, and hopefully willing to work WITH you for everones benefit. If you decide to tell them soon, be honest, now and in the future as your health declines. They will appreciate it.
And of course, my deepest condolences go out to you and yor family. It sounds like you will have some challenges ahead of you. Please keep us informed as to how you are doing. Best of luck hun :)

Susannah said...

This makes so much of the other things posted here seem so silly.

It's hard to say because I don't know either of you personally, but since you've been with them so long I might would tell, maybe wait a bit for you to process and digest things and then tell.

It doesn't sound like it's contagious from your post, so long as you truly feel you can continue work safely tell them that.
Don't be afraid to be honest with yourself and others if things start to become too much for you and your family.
My prayers for you and your family.

workingMom said...

No, I do NOT advocate lying. But distraction and re-direction go a long way towards dealing with the inquiries of small children. They do not need to know all of the nitty-gritty as it is happening. They can be told more as they get older.

Psyber Chica, I am very sorry your children lost their father so young.

And yes, I am VERY fortunate that my family did not have to deal with this issue when my son was that young.

StephanieSaysHowRude said...

I wouldn't tell until you can't work anymore or you've made other arrangements. people that seem caring can turn on you and these situations, and Mom & Dad might not like the idea that their nanny coud be gone at any moment and decide to repace you sooner than you want. It's harsh but the nanny world is more cutthroat than ever before, you've got to look out for #1 , and right now #1 is you!

Please accept my sympathies and take care of your self hun!

Phoenix said...

I was thinking about this a little more. I think you should tell the family right off. My nanny watched me for 6 years when I was an infant until school. I was her flower girl in her wedding, her daughters wedding, and I was around when her grand-daughter was murdered by her dad. I would go over for holidays and help wrap gifts and all that fun stuff
Now since I knew her so well it was very very hard on me when we found out that she had MS.
At 9 when they told me I didn't really understand what that was but I knew she was sick. I started going to see her in the hospital and she had good and bad days. However, MS is able to be treated and the person will always have it but they will be able to live, as long as they take care of themselves. If my nanny would have had a disease where she was going to die and they waited to tell me I think I would have been VERY upset just because that meant I didn't spend as much time with her as I could.
So from the children's point of view I think you need to tell them. Even if you don't think they will understand it would be better for them to be able to spend as much quality time as possible.