Updated: February 22, 2014 5:25PM
Dear Abby: Earlier this year, my sister “Kathy” was diagnosed with breast cancer. She underwent a double mastectomy, chemo and radiation, and will begin reconstructive surgery soon.
Because of her diagnosis she encouraged me to visit my doctor for an exam. When I did, they found a lump, which needs further testing. I have chosen not to share this with my family because my sisters and parents have been deeply affected by Kathy’s diagnosis, and I don’t want to cause them needless worry.
My husband is angry and he said that because Kathy is their favorite they wouldn’t be concerned anyway. I thought it was insensitive and cruel to me, but more to the point, I felt he wasn’t thinking about how upset my doing so might make my family. Am I wrong to feel this way?
— Needs Further Testing
Dear Needs Further Testing: Certainly not. Your husband’s comment illustrates the importance of keeping one’s mouth firmly shut if one can’t think of something helpful or supportive to say. It almost appears that he is angry at you for the questionable test result.
I can’t blame you for not wanting to upset your already stressed family at this point, but if more testing confirms that you, too, have breast cancer, I think it’s important that you let them know — especially your sisters, who might want to be screened sooner than later.
I hope your husband’s apparent inability to support you emotionally during this difficult time is an aberration, but if it’s not, you will need to find support elsewhere.
Dear Abby: About 15 years ago, I committed a crime against a woman I cared about. I have felt guilt and remorse about it ever since. I can’t speak to her or have any contact with her.
I would like to tell her I’m sorry for what happened. I have beaten myself up over this and thought about suicide. What do I do? Please help, Abby.
— So Sorry in St. Joseph, Mo.
Dear So Sorry: The first thing you must do is talk with a mental health professional about your suicidal thoughts. Once you have been stabilized, you should then understand that you may have been forbidden to contact your former friend because what you did was so traumatic that it could cause her to relive the incident, which could further victimize her. If you’re looking for forgiveness, forgive yourself and move on — but leave her out of it.
Dear Abby: Is there some sort of etiquette regarding inquiring about someone’s country of origin?
While making polite conversation with a customer in my retail shop, I noticed she had an accent and asked where she was from. She became very evasive and seemed offended that I had asked. She actually refused to answer my question.
I tried to recover from the awkward situation, but I can’t help but feel I insulted her somehow. Was I wrong to ask?
— Friendly Retailer in Kansas City
Dear Retailer: Perhaps. Some immigrants to this country feel the question you asked is a very personal one. There can be various reasons for it. The person may feel self-conscious about his or her accent, and you can’t know the political situation in the person’s country of origin or whether he or she has encountered bias because of where he or she came from.