Father-in-law hides cancer from rest of his family

Published 9:40 pm Saturday, July 8, 2006

Dear Annie: I’m a 13-year-old girl. My mother tells me I’m pretty, but I don’t think so. I’m also a little overweight for my age, but nothing too bad.

I really would love to have a boyfriend. I know I’m ready for one, but I can never get one. Most of my friends think I have a great personality and say I’m really funny, but no guy wants to stick around long enough to find out.

I love to chat with guys on the Internet, since I can’t get a boyfriend in the real world. I know it’s wrong, but I want a boyfriend so bad.

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I need help. — Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

Dear Looking: It’s normal for you to want a boyfriend, but it’s not a good idea to find one on the Internet. We’re sure you’ve heard all the horror stories. You sound smart enough to know how dangerous it can be, so please don’t look there.

Not all 13-year-old boys can appreciate a girl with a great personality and a good sense of humor, but we don’t want you to be discouraged, because eventually, it will happen. It is important in the meantime that you not appear desperate or behave foolishly. Plenty of girls your age do not have boyfriends. This is the time to develop your mind, your attitude and your sense of self. If you do that, the rest will follow and the results will be better. We promise.

Dear Annie: My father-in-law is dying of cancer. I don’t think he has more than a few months left.

The problem is, my father-in-law refuses to let anyone but his brother know of his condition. There are numerous other relatives who remain in the dark. Dad is a private person, but I think there comes a time when the proper thing to do is inform friends and family of your situation.

When my mother-in-law died several years ago, my husband and I were in the same predicament. We weren’t allowed to tell anyone but his favorite brother. No funeral notice was put in the paper. Her graveside service was private. The majority of relatives and friends found out weeks later. As you can imagine, there was much hurt and anger over the secrecy.

Now that my father-in-law is gravely ill, he’s put us in the same boat. I’m angry that he is being so selfish. How we can convince him to be open with the other relatives? — Shrouded in Secrecy

Dear Shrouded: You can remind him how hurt and upset others were to learn of his wife’s death after the fact. You also can say that family and friends will be angry when he dies, which is certainly not the way he’d like to be remembered.

However, you may not be able to convince him, in which case, let it go. This is his dying wish, and you should respect it, even if you don’t agree. After he passes, you can inform everyone else immediately.

Dear Annie: This is in reply to “No Name in the Midwest,” who was eating her dead skin, etc. She said, “this habit doesn’t run my life,” yet you advised her to go to a therapist.

Let me tell you, not every condition has to be fixed by remedies and doctors.

I’ve had this condition my entire life. It started in the crib, eating holes in the wall. I am now 76 years old, the healthiest in my peer group and also the most mentally well-balanced, with a habit that does not bother anyone because no one ever sees me doing it. She is not hurting anyone, least of all herself. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. — Anonymous

Dear Anonymous: People generally don’t ask our advice unless they want help. We’re glad eating holes in the wall hasn’t bothered you, and we wish you many more years of good health.