Dear Abby: Second wife’s cancer diagnosis makes husband anxious and suicidal

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DEAR ABBY: My first wife died of colon cancer 25 years ago. She was extremely brave and fought hard for two years, but in the end, it was a blessing when her suffering ended. I remarried 20 years ago and my second wife has now been diagnosed with the same cancer. When the diagnosis came back, I have to admit my first reaction was to want to run away because I didn’t want to go through that again.

I know I can’t run away, but the fear and anxiety are overwhelming. I considered killing myself, but I won’t unless my wife dies. I can’t live with this pain any longer than that. I know I should see a counselor, but right now it’s my wife who needs attention. My world is in turmoil. I don’t think I can work effectively. I am lost. I don’t even know what to ask you, but if you have any suggestions, I’ll take them into account with pleasure. — UNHAPPY IN THE WEST

DEAR MISFORTUNE: I’m sorry about your wife’s diagnosis and the overwhelming stress you’re going through. But it’s very important for you and your wife to remember that there have been many advances in cancer treatment that didn’t exist a quarter of a century ago. For both of you, talk to her oncologist about her treatment options and how you can support her through these treatments.

Caregiver support groups could be helpful if you choose to contact them. You can find them on cancer.org, the website of the American Cancer Society. Please give it a try and let me know how you go. Suicide is not the answer to your problem. Your wife’s life – and yours – is precious. She needs you, and that must be paramount. If your suicidal thoughts persist, I urge you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number to call is 800-273-8255.

DEAR ABBY: I have what I think is the opposite problem that many adult children have. My dad does NOT want to vacation with me or my sister. I’ve noticed this trend over the past few years, and it’s really painful to accept.

When I told him I was going to my uncle’s last Christmas because I wanted to be around people who wanted me there, he agreed it was a good idea. His answer crushed my soul. He then expressed that vacations aren’t really fun, that he doesn’t like to travel, and that we fight during them.

I try to accept that he doesn’t want to spend the holidays with us and that he doesn’t feel rejected. It’s a struggle to feel loved by him. No advice? — UNWANTED ADULT CHILD IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR UNWANTED: Many people feel stressed during the holidays, especially when things don’t go as planned. Make plans to reunite with your dad that don’t involve a vacation. Because traveling is difficult for him, make alternate plans with him so he doesn’t feel stressed when you visit. If that doesn’t make things easier for both of you, arrange to spend this vacation with more welcoming friends or relatives in the future.

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 www.DearAbby.com or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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