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home : columns : dear harriette April 14, 2021

1/15/2021 8:06:00 AM
Sister with cancer turns to sibling for pregnancy advice

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister is pregnant and has cancer. Her doctors said her hormones could speed up the growth of her cancer and the baby may not survive the treatment for the cancer. The father is not in her life, so I've been attending all of her appointments, and she's turning to me for advice. She's had a lot of trouble with pregnancy and thinks that this is her only chance to have a baby. She is willing to risk her life for the chance to have a baby. She really wants to leave a legacy on this Earth. But that just means me having to give up my sister and take care of her baby when she is gone. I think she should take care of herself firs and try for a baby later in her life when she is healthy. That's just my opinion; should I tell her what I think, or leave it up to her? -- Save My Sister First

DEAR SAVE MY SISTER FIRST: You need to have an in-depth conversation with your sister about her intentions, her health and the future. First, ask yourself if you can assume responsibility for her child if she dies. If so, you will need to make sure your sister has set up resources to help you. If you do not think you can handle a child, you will need to talk to your sister about adoption.

You have to be specific and real with your sister about the future. If she dies, what happens? What can you handle? Include doctors' recommendations in your discussion. What are your sister's chances of survival if she terminates the pregnancy? All tough questions, but all necessary.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently came in contact with my father, his wife and his daughter after not seeing him in more than 20 years. My mother died, and he reached out to me. We have worked through our troubles about my mother keeping him away from me, and we have a chance at a relationship.

His wife and I have clicked pretty quickly. Now that we have a relationship, it's great, but she has also inserted herself into my life. She sends my dad over to cut my grass or shovel snow, she brings me groceries every week and stays to clean my house. I appreciate it, but I feel like she's trying to be my mom when I really don't need that right now. I'm not sure what type of relationship I want, but she's doing a lot that I have never asked for. I've told her she doesn't need to do anything like this, but she insists. I guess I'm kind of confused about why she wants to. Do you have any idea what this might be about? -- Super Stepmom

DEAR SUPER STEPMOM: Your stepmom probably always wanted to be there to get to know you and support you, but your mother blocked that. She feels that now is her time. If you need a less-intense engagement, talk to her. Tell her how much you appreciate her support, but it is too much. Ask her to take it slow. Figure out what you can accept comfortably, and describe that. Be specific so that she can understand your comfort boundaries. It will take time, but with clarity, you can get to a place that works for everyone.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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