Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 41-year-old man, and I am stressing out because I have to take "the test" to see if I have prostate cancer. I heard it is uncomfortable because of the process to find the prostate. I am really nervous. I am having second thoughts, and I just may skip it altogether because I feel great. Do you think it would be wise for me to skip the test because I am really afraid? -- Let's Get a Physical, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR LET'S GET A PHYSICAL: You are not alone in your trepidation about getting a prostate examination. Sadly, many men, in particular, avoid going to the doctor until there is an emergency. I would like to suggest that you think about this test differently. In a complete physical, which you should have annually, you should have a prostate examination. You should have that test along with a range of traditional blood tests that are designed to evaluate your health. If you have any unusual test results, your doctor will help you to make choices to become healthier.

While the prostate test may be somewhat uncomfortable, trust that it is a very quick exam that thousands of men get every day. You can do it. Rather than avoiding the test because of your fear of the unknown, go for it. When you monitor your health, you create space to take care of yourself preventatively.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My fiance's parents are Jehovah's Witnesses, and I recently learned that they do not celebrate Christmas. I had invited them to my home for Christmas dinner for the first time that I have ever cooked for my family, and I thought it would be great for them to come so that the parents and other family members can all meet. I am so disappointed. I asked my fiance if they would consider coming anyway and just not exchange gifts. He said there's no way. Now I'm wondering what life is going to be like with him if his parents aren't ever going to come around on holidays. Am I making a mistake? -- Second Guessing, Washington, D.C.

DEAR SECOND GUESSING: It is true that Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate Christmas. The only yearly observance that I'm aware of them celebrating is wedding anniversaries. They do not celebrate birthdays, either.

This does not have to be a deal breaker. There are plenty of couples with one partner as a Witness and one of another faith tradition. While it is easier if you and your partner and your families share the same spiritual practices, you can manage if you do not.

For example, plan a meal where both families meet that is on a neutral day. Turn it into a special occasion by saying it is a meet-the-parents moment. As far as your differing faiths, before you get married, talk openly about your beliefs with your fiance and his family, and ask them questions about theirs. Figure out where your ideas converge and where you may need to agree to disagree. To learn more about Jehovah's Witnesses, visit