This question and response below appeared in today's Boston Globe in the Ask Amy column..
Q. A few weeks ago I ran into an acquaintance who has
been fighting breast cancer for the last year. We had a lovely
conversation. She is very forthright about her diagnosis, and her spirit
I mentioned I was midway through a book that I knew she’d love. I promised to share it when I finished it.
As it turns out, the last quarter of the book is devoted to the protagonist’s own cancer diagnosis and his eventual death.
Should I still give it to her?
book is very good. I know she’d appreciate how this character evolves,
but I don’t want to be insensitive. Then again, if you eliminate books
with people dying in them, the library shelves would be bare.
What do you think I should do?
A. You should give your friend a different book that
you also love but does not stress your acquaintance with an intense
I think I disagree. I would still share the book but tell her it includes a cancer diagnosis.I would say something like "I thought this was a great book and think you would like it. But I wanted you to know someone is diagnosed with cancer in it." Let it be the person with cancer's decision.
Many people are unsure how to handle cancer and talk to people about it. By sharing a different book, they are avoiding the elephant in the room.
I really hate it when people try to shield me from something or someone that they think might upset me because of my health. Face it, my health is a big part of me and by shielding me, you aren't doing me any favors. And you might piss me off.