DEAR ABBY: My first wife died of colon cancer 25 years ago. She was extremely brave and fought hard for two years, but in the end, it was a blessing when her suffering ended. I remarried 20 years ago, and my second wife has now been diagnosed with the same cancer. When the diagnosis came back, I have to admit my first reaction was to want to run away because I didn't want to go through that again.
I know I can't run away, but the fear and anxiety are overpowering. I have considered suicide but will do that only if my wife dies. I can't live with this pain for longer than that. I know I should see a counselor, but right now my wife is the one who needs the attention. My world is in turmoil. I don't think I can work effectively. I'm lost. I don't even know what to ask of you, but if you have any suggestions, I would gladly heed them. -- WOEFUL IN THE WEST
DEAR WOEFUL: I am sorry about your wife's diagnosis and the overwhelming stress you are experiencing. But it is very important that you and your wife remember there have been many advances in the treatment of cancer that didn't exist a quarter of a century ago. For both your sakes, talk with her oncologist about what her treatment options are and how you can support her during them.
Caregiver support groups could be helpful for you if you choose to contact them. You will find them at cancer.org, the American Cancer Society's website. Please give it a try and let me know how you are doing. Suicide is not the answer to your problem. Your wife's life -- and yours -- are precious. She needs you, and that has to be of primary importance. If your suicidal thoughts continue, I urge you to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The number to call is 800-273-8255.