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Health & Spirit

In-law reaction to cancer treatment creates rift

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Lately I have become persona non-grata to my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Next to my wife, they have been my closest confidants for years.

Being so suddenly rejected by these two women really hurts.

They claim I could have gotten my wife into an experimental program for her stage 4 cancer and that I didn't. I have no idea what they are talking about.

Two top oncologists at different hospitals and the NIH and NCI agree and tell us to stay on the chemo she's on because it's working. These physicians have said that she should definitely not go into any trial.

I've called my in-laws and apologized. I've asked how we can get back on the right footing. Neither woman will accept my apology. They treat me with utter disdain.

Yes, I know cancer causes all kinds of grieving. But it also brings families together. This is tearing us apart. I can't bear the thought of spending the holidays (they live nearby) with people who despise me. Of course, my wife is standing with me.

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We are using the excuse that Thanksgiving and Christmas both fall in the weeks when she is getting her chemo and she can't go out. But the truth is, it's simply too awkward to be false and pretend like everything is OK.

We have been entirely transparent for the past 20 months of this struggle. I feel these women are incredibly selfish and hurtful.

What should I do? What could I say to bring us back as one loving, supportive family around my wife?

-- Cancer Dividing a Family

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