DEAR HARRIETTE: While doing a quick self-exam, I found a lump in my left breast. I froze and immediately scheduled an appointment with my doctor. I am almost 60 years old, and I haven't told any of my children about my hospital visits. The lump turned out to just be an infection, but I had cancerous cells removed more than a decade ago. Should I tell my children about my health scare? I don't want them to take my time left for granted, but I also don't want them worrying about me. -- Big Scare, Pikesville, Maryland
DEAR BIG SCARE: Now is not the time to frighten your children for no reason. Instead, make sure that you have a complete physical. Ask every question you can think of, and share every detail of your health history. Do your own due diligence so that you are clear about your health status. Given that your health scare was resolved, count yourself smart and still independent.
Thinking about the future, you should decide which of your children will be your main health advocate. Ask that child to agree to be that support to you. It's best if he or she lives near you so that if and when you have health concerns, it will be manageable for him or her to attend doctor's visits with you and follow up as needed. When you introduce the idea, be sure to say the truth, that nothing is wrong now, but you are thinking ahead and want to have your plans in order.