Dear Annie: I have a dilemma. My ex-husband, who is the father of our two children (ages 16 and 17), always seems to end up back in my day-to-day life. He has stayed with me at least four times since we have been divorced. He always gets me with a sob story about why he needs to stay at my house with me and the kids.
Currently, he has been staying with us for three months, because he decided to rent his home out and I was his backup plan, apparently. I don’t want a romantic relationship with him, and I’m trying to be diplomatic when telling him to get out. By the way, every place I’ve lived since our divorce, he has used the address to send his mail.
I’m tired of his smothering nature but I want to maintain a civil friendship for the sake of the kids. Help! Is there a way out of this tangled situation? — Smothered in Georgia
Dear Smothered: The next time he starts up with one of these sob stories, plug your ears. There is no excuse for him to impose on you this way. And by desperately inserting himself into your life, he’s preventing you both from beginning to heal and move on with your lives.
Set boundaries and stick to them. Tell him the current situation is not working and that you need him to find somewhere else to stay. This isn’t just the right thing to do for your mental health but also the smart thing to do for the sake of civility: If you continue letting him stay with you and bottle up your real feelings, it’s only a matter of time before you explode.
Dear Annie: I am 54 and have been donating blood since college. I went to donate in May this year, but when they tested my hemoglobin, it was too low to donate. I went to my doctor, and he ordered labs and found that I was very anemic. He sent me to a gastroenterologist to be scoped, and she found a five-centimeter tumor in my colon and sent me to a surgeon to have it removed. I had half of my colon removed in July and am fully recovered. (My son says I’m now a semicolon.)
I never had a colonoscopy at age 50, as recommended, because I was too busy with work and kids. I had no family history and no symptoms. So I am writing for two reasons.
First, please go get scoped if you are over 50 or, if you’re under 50 and have a family history or any symptoms, such as a change in bowel habits, constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, shortness of breath, unexplained weight loss or dark or bloody stools. Many, many young people are being diagnosed with colon cancer — some even in their teens.
And second, I found a fantastic support group on Facebook called Colontown, a nonprofit, private online community for colorectal cancer patients, survivors and care partners. There are separate “neighborhoods” you can be placed in depending on your age, gender, geographical location (I was able to meet two local members for lunch), stage, side effects, clinical trials and many more factors. To learn more, visit colontown.org. — CRC Survivor
Dear Survivor: I’m so glad you found a supportive community to help make a scary, challenging time a bit more manageable. I appreciate you sharing this resource, and I think your letter will have an added benefit of encouraging people who have been putting off colonoscopies to schedule those appointments. If detected early, colorectal cancer is one of the most curable cancers, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]