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Dear Abby: When I’m wearing a wig during chemo, how should I handle compliments on my hair?

Cancer patient would rather not reveal the diagnosis to acquaintances who ask about the new look.

DEAR ABBY: I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I’m undergoing chemotherapy. My children are still in school. I have lost all my hair and wear a wig when out in the community. It closely approximates my pre-cancer hairstyle, except it’s a bit shorter with highlights.

Acquaintances have seen me at events, and complimented me on my hair. Some have asked questions such as, “Did you do something different with your hair? It looks great!” and, “Your hair looks so different. Did you do something new?” I prefer not to share my diagnosis with these individuals. One person even began touching my hair! What is the appropriate response? When I replied, “Thank you,” they stared at me, expecting more of an explanation. — WIG WEARER IN SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

DEAR WIG WEARER: You are not obligated to discuss your medical information with “acquaintances.” “Thank you” should have been enough. However, because it wasn’t, I’m guessing the people doing the probing probably realized you were wearing a wig.

I discussed your question with Piny of Beverly Hills, a longtime wig-maker to performers in show business as well as cancer patients. He told me that handling the question could be as simple as saying you saw it online or in a shop, thought it was cute and have been enjoying wearing it. Many people wear wigs and extensions these days, for a variety of reasons, he said. So many adults have dull or thinning hair that your healthy, shiny locks are somewhat unusual, which may be why people have been quizzing you.

That said, consider wearing your wig to a beauty salon and talking with a stylist about what you’re encountering. Wigs that aren’t custom-made can have so much hair that they don’t look natural — particularly if the wearer didn’t have thick hair to begin with. A good stylist may be able to thin the wig for you so it looks more natural.

DEAR ABBY: I have been living with a secret for more than 17 years. I have a little sister and brother who think I’m their cousin. My father doesn’t want me to tell his wife or them the truth: He’d had an affair with my mother while he was engaged, and I was the result.

My father and I stopped talking a year ago. Since I no longer have to worry about disappointing him, I feel this is the right time to tell them. What do you think? Can I tell them now and possibly start some type of relationship with them? They’re in their mid- to late-20s now. — SECRET CHILD

DEAR SECRET CHILD: Because your half-siblings are now adults, I see no reason why you must remain silent and continue to protect your father. However, because you have NOT had a close relationship with them, I am cautioning you that your news may not be received warmly or regarded as “good” news, particularly by their mother.

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 P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Good advice for everyone — teens to seniors — is in “The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It.” To order, send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)