Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Mother's Lung Cancer Devastates Daughter

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. I am trying to stay strong for her, but each day it gets harder and harder. My mom and I have always been extremely close, and when she was diagnosed, I absolutely lost it. I can’t imagine losing her; I don’t think I will be able to cope. It scares me to the point where I get sick over the thought of it. My siblings are also devastated by the news, but they don’t seem as upset as me. My mom keeps telling me to go out and do something fun for myself, but I just want to be with her all the time. How am I supposed to do something fun for myself when I know there is a chance I could be losing my mom in a couple of months? -- Depressed Daughter, Minneapolis

DEAR DEPRESSED DAUGHTER: Your mother needs you to get a handle on your emotions. Reality check: Your mother is alive NOW. She needs you NOW. She is fighting for her life NOW. Another reality check: All that is promised to us is the moment we are in -- nothing more. So, rather than becoming incapacitated about what may happen in the future, be fully present now. That means staying attentive to your mother while also paying attention to your own life. Your mother needs space, too. If she is encouraging you to go out and do something fun, the message is for you and for her. She has to deal with what she is facing without worrying about how you are handling it. Make the decision to do all that you can for your mother. This should include taking care of yourself. And invoke grace to help you along the way.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents were never married, but are no longer together. Soon after they separated, my dad got married to another woman whom I like and get along with. I think they are great together and make each other happy.

Recently, my dad has been hinting to me that my stepmom wants to have or adopt a child. I can't even begin to explain how against the idea I am. My dad is 56 years old with three grown children -- he should not be having another child at this point in his life! I know the push must be coming from my stepmom (she is significantly younger than my dad). How do I talk him out of this? -- Dad Too Old for Another Kid, Roanoke, Virginia

DEAR DAD TOO OLD FOR ANOTHER KID: This is your dad’s decision. He has married a woman who wants children. It is natural for him and his wife to consider this seriously. This weighs heavily on his heart, I am sure. Stop trying to force his choices. Instead, tell him your concerns, and ask him if he has made a plan. Ask if he has created a will and other safety precautions in case this new child outlives him. Ask about what his plans are for you and your siblings. Do your best to be happy for him. He sacrificed a lot for you. Let him know you appreciate him and want him to be happy. You can tell him that you are worried about what it may all mean. Ask him to think it through very strategically before deciding.

(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.)