Dear Abby: Wife’s colon cancer death devastated me, and now second wife has it

Overwhelmed by fear and anxiety, man considers running away or killing himself.

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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 overpowering. I have considered suicide but will do that only if my wife dies. I can’t live with this pain for longer than that. I know I should see a counselor, but right now my wife is the one who needs the attention. My world is in turmoil. I don’t think I can work effectively. I’m lost. I don’t even know what to ask of you, but if you have any suggestions, I would gladly heed them. — WOEFUL IN THE WEST

DEAR WOEFUL: I am sorry about your wife’s diagnosis and the overwhelming stress you are experiencing. But it is very important that you and your wife remember there have been many advances in the treatment of cancer that didn’t exist a quarter of a century ago. For both your sakes, talk with her oncologist about what her treatment options are and how you can support her during them.

Caregiver support groups could be helpful for you if you choose to contact them. You will find them at, the American Cancer Society’s website. Please give it a try and let me know how you are doing.

Suicide is not the answer to your problem. Your wife’s life — and yours — are precious. She needs you, and that has to be of primary importance. If your suicidal thoughts continue, 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 father DOESN’T want to spend holidays with me or my sister. I’ve noticed this trend in the last few years, and it is really painful to accept.

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

I’m trying to accept that he doesn’t want to spend the holidays with us, and somehow not feel rejected. It’s a struggle to feel loved by him. Any advice? — UNWANTED ADULT CHILD IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR UNWANTED: Many people feel stressed at holiday time, particularly when things don’t go as planned. Make plans to get together with your father that do not involve holidays. Because traveling is hard for him, make alternative plans with him so he won’t feel stressed when you visit him. If that doesn’t make things easier for both of you, arrange to spend these holidays 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 or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Abby shares more than 100 of her favorite recipes in two booklets: “Abby’s Favorite Recipes” and “More Favorite Recipes by Dear Abby.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $16 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet Set, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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