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Home » Dear Abby: My friend has cancer, I don’t know how to talk to her

Dear Abby: My friend has cancer, I don’t know how to talk to her

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DEAR ABBY: I have a close friend who was diagnosed with skin cancer. She had surgery a few days ago, and she will know within the next two weeks if it is gone. I am devastated. I don’t know what to do, to say or how to act. 

I check in several times a day with her to ask what I can do. We usually talk about everything, but now she’s talking about death and dying. My heart is broken and I tear up when I think about it. I’d like to tell her what I’m feeling and how much I think of her but I don’t know how. — LOST IN THE EAST

DEAR LOST: If you feel you can’t get out what you need to communicate to your friend without breaking down, put it in a letter to her. Take your time writing it, and when you’re done, put it aside for a day or two, and then reread it before sending or giving it to her. It couldn’t do any harm to let her know how much you love and value her, the things you most admire about her and how important she IS (not was) in your life. If she lives decades more, which I sincerely hope, that love letter will be a treasured keepsake.

DEAR ABBY: Fifteen years ago, my husband’s sister told him their brother “Brad” had molested her when she was young. She had repressed it until revealing it to a therapist. Brad admitted doing it, but said it was because a parish priest showed him pornography. Brad gave her money to pay for her therapy. 

My husband has pretty much dismissed it and remains very close to Brad. I have never been able to look at Brad in the same way, and I prefer to not be around him. My husband wants me to pretend it’s in the past and let it go, but I’m having trouble doing that. My aversion to Brad has grown more intense over the years. His sister still has issues, and I believe they stem from his abuse. I don’t know what to do. Help, please. — COMPLICATED IN ILLINOIS

DEAR COMPLICATED: It is probable that the priest who showed Brad the pornography sexually abused him, too. Brad has tried to make amends by paying for his sister’s therapy. (I wonder if he had any himself.) I think you should talk to your sister-in-law about this, and take your cues from her.

DEAR ABBY: I am in my late 60s. When I am approached by people who know me, I can’t remember them. It’s embarrassing to ask them who they are. I may have worked with them or met them somehow, but although they look familiar, I draw a blank. I have spoken to several friends who have the same problem. I sometimes recognize people I haven’t seen for a while and have to remind them who I am. What would be the polite way to ask, “Who are you?” — DON’T KNOW IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR DON’T KNOW: A polite way to manage it would be to be honest. Simply say, “Forgive me, but I think I’m having a ‘senior moment.’ Where do we know each other from?” It’s effective, and as you stated, you are NOT the only one. It also happens to people who are younger than you.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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