Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Wants to Visit Uncle With Liver Cancer

DEAR HARRIETTE: My uncle was recently diagnosed with liver cancer. He caught it early, so he was able to get chemo and has had a couple of surgeries in the past few months. We live in different states, but I have always had a close relationship with him.

I work full time, but I have been thinking about visiting him for a week or two. I can’t afford to take that much time off, but something is telling me that this may be the last time I get to spend quality time with him. Should I visit him? -- Sick Uncle, Raleigh, North Carolina

DEAR SICK UNCLE: It is honorable that you want to spend time with your uncle. Too often, when young people move away from home and start their lives, they disconnect from family. This is usually unintentional, but it's still common.

You absolutely should go visit your uncle. Work it out with your employer. Speak to your boss about your family crisis and ask how much time you can take off to support him.

If your uncle has the energy and ability to use technology, set him up with FaceTime or Skype so that you can have video chats when you are back home. He will appreciate your presence in person and your continuing connection to him by phone.

While you are with him, do your best to ensure that he is set up with the medical supports he needs. If there is any family nearby, talk to them about how they can help him during this fragile time.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a group of 10 friends from college. We are all still close and meet up regularly for brunch or dinner. I have always had a hunch that one of my friends might be a lesbian. All through college, she never seemed interested in guys, and she still has never had a boyfriend. When she drinks, she gets very touchy-feely with my friends and me, which at first I thought was because she was intoxicated, but now I think it’s her true feelings coming out. Do you think it’s appropriate for me to ask? I want to make sure she knows I will always be her friend no matter her sexual preference. -- Friend Might Be Gay, Des Moines, Iowa

DEAR FRIEND MIGHT BE GAY: Good for you that you have observed what may be the true feelings of your friend that emerge when she’s drinking. This means that she is probably uncomfortable sharing them while sober. Since you are good friends, it would be wonderful for you to speak to her privately and ask her if she is gay. Tell her why you think so, and immediately add that you accept her as she is. Suggest that she open up and talk about her life with your friend group. I'm sure it's difficult to notice her getting touchy-feely after she drinks without coming out and talking about what’s really going on for her. Offer to be a sounding board. If she doesn’t want to tell the whole group, that’s OK, too. Make sure she knows you have her back.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)