DEAR ABBY: "Devastated in Oklahoma" (June 18) asked how she can be supportive of her father, who is battling lung cancer. I was in a similar situation 3 1/2 years ago when my dad was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood.
It was terrifying witnessing the physical impact it had on my dad. I realized there wasn't anything I could do for his pain -- that was up to his doctors. But I figured out what I could do: I could raise money for cancer research.
I joined the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training and trained for an endurance bike ride while raising money for cancer. It was the greatest experience not only for me, but also for my dad, who was extremely touched by the number of donations. It gave him a morale boost.
I would like to encourage "Devastated" to look for a similar program in her area. It may help her deal with the diagnosis, knowing she's helping current and future patients just like her dad. "Devastated" doesn't have to be an athlete to sign up. I didn't even own a bike when I started the journey! -- EMMY IN ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.
DEAR EMMY: Taking a proactive stance is an excellent suggestion and one I am happy to pass along to "Devastated." Read on:
DEAR ABBY: With two cancer survivors in my family, I heartily endorse your advice. Even when we faced a 10 percent chance of survival, we worked, prayed, researched and talked about hopeful prospects. It helped us all in valuable ways.
There were dark days, but love of family, attention to medical messages, prayer and forward thinking can make a huge difference in the healing process. This is a time for "Devastated" to bond in new ways with her father. -- BEEN THERE, TOO
DEAR ABBY: My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, too. She had one-fourth of her left lung removed. We thought it might be the end for her, but it certainly wasn't. She lived for seven more years, and I cherished the extra time I had with her. I hope "Devastated" will treasure every second with her father now. -- BARBARA IN NEW MEXICO
DEAR ABBY: As a father of two and grandfather of four, I know there is nothing more wonderful than being involved with one's progeny. "Devastated" should know that when her father comforted her, he was given the opportunity to do what a father loves to do -- show love to his child. And believe me, to know he was needed was a comfort to him as well. She need not worry. She is right where she needs to be. -- PAPA IN HAYWARD, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: "Devastated" should consider hospice if her father decides to stop treatment. It's a godsend and costs nothing. Most of all, she needs to let her father comfort her and to be her daddy for as long as possible. It will make him feel better. Let him know she loves him and will support any decision he makes. It is OK to cry, and to cry with him. -- MARY IN OKLAHOMA
DEAR ABBY: My brave, strong, loving father was killed instantly in a car accident. When I learned about it, I wished I had him to comfort me. "Devastated" is fortunate to still have time with her father.
She should not feel guilty about her feelings; they are perfectly normal. She needs to be his daughter first, his second pair of ears throughout his treatment and his caregiver if needed. The strength will come when she needs it. -- STILL MISSING MY DAD