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by Abigail Van Buren

Cancer Patient Decides Not to Fight Disease

DEAR ABBY: I have been living with intense grief and depression for a number of years. I have tried every way imaginable to deal with it, to no avail. I am no longer interested in fighting it. I have had suicidal ideation for years but haven't acted on it because of the pain it would cause my family.

Now it appears I have an answer. I have discovered that I have cancer. I have decided to do nothing about it and let it take me. I'm just not sure whether or not to tell my family.

I am inclined to say nothing until it's too late, but I fear this decision will cause them as much pain as if I had died by my own hand. I don't want to be here, and I don't think I should have to be simply because others expect it. I don't have a close relationship with my family anyway, if that has any bearing. We speak infrequently at best. Your thoughts, please? -- DONE WITH IT

DEAR DONE: I am sorry for your despair. You say your only question is whether to tell your family about your diagnosis because of the pain it may cause them, although you are not close and communicate infrequently. If you have truly made up your mind to refuse treatment, I vote for not informing them, which could be construed as trying to put them on a guilt trip. Everyone has a right to make this highly personal decision for themselves, but I hope you will remain in touch with your doctor, which may lessen any physical or psychological suffering you experience during the course of your disease.

Read more in: Mental Health | Health & Safety | Death | Family & Parenting