ASK AMY

Wife re­fuses to be ‘the sick girl’

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINM­ENT -

Dear Amy: My wife is quite some­thing, if I do say so, my­self. Un­for­tu­nately, she has can­cer and is un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy. She has a pro­fes­sional prac­tice with a large num­ber of clients and des­per­ately does not want it to get out that she is sick. She has told only a select num­ber of very close friends, her busi­ness part­ner and her fam­ily.

She doesn’t want to be­come “the sick girl,” with ev­ery­one ask­ing her about her health. She doesn’t want that be­com­ing the sole fo­cus of her re­la­tion­ships. She’s also con­cerned that clients, afraid that she might not sur­vive, will leave her prac­tice in droves.

I’m do­ing ev­ery­thing I can to sup­port her and to re­duce her stress. It would be eas­ier if I could tell my boss what’s go­ing on, but I’m hon­or­ing her wishes.

Treat­ment is on­go­ing, and although she gets tired, she’s hang­ing in there, with the help of her busi­ness part­ner. Ev­ery un­ex­pected is­sue de­stroys her. She is a very or­dered per­son who has a prob­lem with mon­key wrenches in her life. Can­cer is that and much more.

I be­lieve that peo­ple will sup­port her. Is it bet­ter for her to let peo­ple know or to keep it a se­cret, hop­ing for a good out­come? Her odds for sur­vival are not great. She has all my love, sup­port and re­spect for her per­sonal choices, but how can I do bet­ter?

Dear Hus­band: I can’t say what is best for your wife, and you can’t, ei­ther. Her ill­ness, treat­ment and dis­clo­sure de­ci­sions must be up to her.

I can think of ways she could han­dle dis­clo­sure that might min­i­mize the neg­a­tive im­pact on her. She and her busi­ness part­ner might send a care­fully worded email to her clients, dis­clos­ing that she is in treat­ment. They could add, “Due to pri­vacy con­cerns, she will not com­mu­ni­cate fur­ther about her ill­ness but ap­pre­ci­ates the good thoughts of our busi­ness part­ners and clients. She will con­tinue to serve clients through­out her treat­ment.”

Re­gard­less of what your wife dis­closes, she should re­ceive in­formed, com­pas­sion­ate, emo­tional sup­port through an in-per­son or on­line can­cer sup­port group or (ad­di­tion­ally) in­di­vid­ual ther­apy. The Amer­i­can Can­cer So­ci­ety of­fers many re­sources (in­clud­ing a live “chat” func­tion) on can­cer.org. You should also look into care­giver re­sources.

Learn­ing new ways to cope with her ill­ness will have a pos­i­tive im­pact on her emo­tional health. You must love her through this, and you sound ready and able to do so.

Dear Amy: Can you put the word out that lis­ten­ing to your elec­tronic de­vices at a restau­rant is the same as us­ing them in a movie the­ater? I’ve had to hear back­ground noise of adults AND chil­dren lis­ten­ing to their de­vices.

They should wear ear­phones so not to dis­turb the peo­ple around them. It’s ter­ri­ble to have to hear this, es­pe­cially when it com­petes with the mu­sic in the restau­rant.

I haven’t yet asked any­one to shut it off, nor have I asked restau­rant staff to ask them to shut it off.

Dear Pa­tron: I dis­agree with your anal­ogy that lis­ten­ing/watch­ing on de­vices in restau­rants is the same as us­ing them in a movie the­ater. In a the­ater, pa­trons watch/ lis­ten to one medium, en masse. At a restau­rant, pa­trons en­gage in dis­crete ac­tiv­i­ties around sep­a­rate ta­bles.

I agree with you, how­ever, that if the vol­ume of me­dia at a neigh­bor’s ta­ble rises above nor­mal con­ver­sa­tion level or is par­tic­u­larly an­noy­ing, you are within your rights to ask, “Would you mind turn­ing the vol­ume down — or maybe wear head­phones?”

Dear Amy: As a dis­abled per­son who re­ceives dis­abil­ity pay­ments, I was highly of­fended that you di­rected “Up­set Neigh­bor” to report her neigh­bor for dis­abil­ity fraud. How dare you sug­gest that a neigh­bor med­dle in this way?!

Dear Of­fended: Sev­eral read­ers were of­fended. How­ever, in my re­sponse I chal­lenged “Up­set’s” knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion and sup­plied sup­port­ive rea­sons this neigh­bor, or any­one, would re­ceive dis­abil­ity pay­ments. The neu­tral tone of my an­swer, plus the fact that I sup­plied ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion about how to report fraud, seems to have up­set peo­ple who re­ceive this life­sav­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port.

Copy­right 2019 by Amy Dick­in­son

Dis­trib­uted by Tri­bune Con­tent Agency

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