DEAR ABBY: Please help me – I am in pieces. My sister is dying of cancer. She has shut me out of her life and has become very hostile toward me. This is breaking my heart, and I don’t know how to deal with it. I have done nothing to offend her, and I don’t understand why she is acting this way.

I understand that my sister is in pain and afraid, but I need her in my life because I love her. What can I do? – CARING SISTER IN NORTH CAROLINA

I’m sorry about the sad prognosis your sister received. Many years ago, a doctor named Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five distinct emotional stages that a dying person may go through after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. They are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

However, people do not necessarily pass through all of these stages. Sometimes they get “stuck” – and it appears your sister hasn’t made it past the second stage. Spiritual and/or psychological counseling might help her. But if she’s unwilling to accept it, all you can do is let her know how much you love her, need her and will always miss her.

P.S. A grief support group might be very helpful for you, so check with the American Cancer Society. It can be reached by calling (800) 227-2345 or visiting

DEAR ABBY: My husband and I were invited to a dinner party. Then our hostess told us that guests must bring their own plates and silverware or we would not be permitted to join the dinner. I thought it was extremely tacky; my husband saw no problem with it. What are your thoughts? – DINNER GUEST IN DENVER

Let’s put it this way – your hostess’s request was highly unusual. Perhaps the woman didn’t have enough china and silverware to accommodate all the people she wanted to come. Of course, she could have provided paper plates and plastic flatware – and that’s what you should have brought so you wouldn’t have had to carry home and wash your dirty dishes.

P.S. If you chose to attend the woman’s dinner party knowing the circumstances, it’s not very nice to now be biting the hand that fed you.

DEAR ABBY: Now that it’s summer I need your help with one of your to-the-point witty comebacks. My husband and I are both fair-skinned. Skin cancer runs in both sides of our families. We always wear sunscreen and lather up our 8- month-old child as well.

Yesterday, a few friends at the pool made jokes about needing sunglasses in our presence because of the sun reflecting off our pale bodies. I became upset and left the pool. Is there something I can say to make a point and let these people know how rude they are when commenting on our lack of a suntan? – TANLESS IN SUGAR HILL, GA.

For many years the American Academy of Dermatology has urged everyone – regardless of skin tone – to avoid long-term exposure to the sun, and to always wear sunscreen, even on cloudy days. I see no reason to try and be witty. “Skin cancer runs in both sides of our family, and frankly, you should be careful, too,” is a simple way to convey your message. (Let a smile be your umbrella if they give you any flak.)

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $6 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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