Posted: Thursday, September 9, 2010 9:04 pm
Dear Annie: Seven years ago, I had an elective bilateral mastectomy. I had multiple lumps and biopsies, coupled with a family history of cancer. Also, my young daughter was reaching the age I was when I lost my own mother to breast cancer. My doctor and surgeon performed the operation with little question.
The years since have been difficult. I have had five reconstructions and still have trouble with hardening implants. The real issue is, I have no one to talk to about this. I have not been able to find a therapist willing to touch the issue. I was even turned away by the American Cancer Society because I was not a “survivor.”
My husband tolerates the consequences, but has yet to be able to look at me naked. I want to cry whenever I see women’s magazines, because I will never be “whole” again. I’ve tried to put my sadness away and accept who I am. At the age of 55, I hope to live many more years. I don’t want this to eat away at my spirit any longer. Please help. — Anxiously Awaiting
Dear Anxious: When you had your surgery, support groups were few and far between, but times have changed — at least a little. There is a prophylactic mastectomy group on Facebook, and we recommend you contact FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) at 866-288-RISK (866-288-7475) (facingourrisk.org). And by all means, ask them to help you find a therapist. We cannot imagine why you have been having so much trouble getting decent counseling.
Dear Annie: I recently flew out to visit my grandparents. At first, it was great and very relaxing. However, my grandmother and I traveled six hours to go to a bridal shower, where everyone, including my grandmother, ignored me. By the time we returned, I was sick of her behavior. She is an eternal pessimist and finds fault in everything. She criticizes my judgment and insists on treating me like a child. She makes all my decisions for me, including changing my order at a restaurant. She canceled my ticket home and decided to drive the 14-hour trip and then stay for a week.
I have tried talking to her and have specifically pointed out that she treats me as if I cannot make my own decisions. She acted offended and refused to believe she had done anything of the sort. I see my grandparents often and love them, but if Grandma continues doing this, I really won’t enjoy her visits. Any ideas? — Frustrated Teenager
Dear Frustrated: Grandma still sees you as a child and is having a hard time loosening the reins. The way to demonstrate your maturity is to be assertive without being petulant or angry. Ignore her negative or critical attitude. That’s part of her personality and requires tolerance. When you visit, be sure to clean up after yourself and help with meal preparation. That way she will see you as a capable adult. If she changes your restaurant order, say nicely, “Sorry, Grandma, but I prefer my original selection,” and be sure to give your order directly to the server (unless it costs more than Grandma wants to spend). A change in attitude is a process and takes time, so please be patient with your grandmother.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “Father of Mini-Me,” whose daughter wants to shave her head. I admire her for wanting to donate her hair to Locks of Love, but please suggest she send it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths for the American Cancer Society. The cancer patients who receive hair from Pantene Beautiful Lengths do not have to pay for their wigs, unlike Locks of Love. “Father” can go to the website at beautifullengths.com for the details. — Your Friend in Alabama
Dear Friend: We have recommended Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths in the past and are happy to do so again. Thanks for reminding us.
To all our Jewish readers: A happy and healthy Rosh Hashanah.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
Published in The Messenger 9.9.10