Dear Annie: I have suffered with lymphoma for 17 years, but praise God, I am doing well now. Ten years ago, my sister, “June,” was tested to see if she could be a bone marrow donor. She was a perfect genetic match and bragged that she had the “right stuff.” The donation wasn’t necessary at that time, but it was reassuring.
June began calling me weekly to tell me her troubles with her cheating husband, her finances, her dog, etc. I was supportive and helpful. Last year, I was hospitalized with severe pneumonia, spent two weeks in intensive care, and was so weak I ended up in a wheelchair. June never once called or visited, nor did she return any of my calls. My oncologist informed me that I desperately needed the bone marrow transplant or I might die.
When I finally talked to June, she told me my illness was making her anxious. I asked if she could donate blood so that I could get ready for the bone marrow transplant. She laughed and said, “I thought you were supposed to die last month.” She then told me that donating blood didn’t fit into her schedule, and would I please stop telling her my troubles. She insulted me for 20 minutes before hanging up. Shortly after, she sent me a letter, which I assumed would be an apology. Boy, was I wrong! She said I had made no effort to understand that she was frightened, and the rest of her letter was nothing but cruel words.
I realized then that she was never going to donate. I was fortunate to find a wonderful unrelated donor, had the transplant, and spent five months in the hospital.
June just sent me a birthday gift. I can’t bring myself to open it and I can’t seem to throw it away. Annie, I don’t want to deal with June’s self-pity again, but I often cry about losing a sister. How can I get over my hurt? – Disappointed in Texas
Dear Texas: June’s fears and anxiety are no excuse for nastiness. The way to get over your hurt is to forgive her for being cowardly and self-centered, and decide whether you are willing to maintain the relationship on a more superficial level, expecting much less from her from now on. If so, open the gift and send a thank-you note, the same way you would for a distant acquaintance. Otherwise, return her gift unopened and look for supportive friends and family members elsewhere. You can start with support groups through the American Cancer Society (cancer.org).
Dear Annie: You had a letter from “Stressed Daughter,” who is the primary caregiver for her elderly mother. Please suggest that she contact her local area agency on aging. She can search by ZIP code at www.n4a.org.
I work for the local Department of Aging and Long Term Care in my area, and we offer an extensive variety of support and information. – Trying to Help
Dear Trying: Thank you for the additional, useful suggestion. We hope anyone in this position will check their local area agency on aging for assistance in finding resources.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. You can also find Annie on Facebook at Facebook.com/AskAnnies. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.