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Troubles pile up for family after terminal diagnosis

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/4/2014 (2295 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I've been happily married to my husband for 15 years; however, he was recently diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Ever since his diagnosis, he's become a completely different person. He sometimes comes home in the middle of the night with no explanation of where he was. I found out he started smoking marijuana. I also have a pretty good suspicion he has a second cellphone, though he denies it. I desperately need help. I'm currently pregnant, to go along with a moody son, a husband with lung cancer and an overdrawn chequing account. -- Stressed and Confused, Winnipeg.


Dear Stressed: You have to get tough now. Your husband knows he's going to die and it won't be long, so he's doing whatever he pleases. He may not be thinking of you, his child and the baby any more, or when he does, it makes him depressed and panicky. Drugs and women are big distractions from those feelings, Second cellphones make contacting another woman or a drug dealer much easier.

So get refocused on yourself, your child and baby to come -- as if you are already on your own. What supports can you start putting in place? Do you have a job where you will get maternity leave? If not, can you go on social assistance? If necessary, what can you do to make money when the baby is little? Where will you live? Do you need to have a roommate, or move in with family? Who could that be? It's time to confess to friends and family exactly what your desperate situation is, financially and otherwise. Villa Rosa, the home/centre for unwed/single mothers knows all the supports for pregnant women that exist in the city, so call them. You are not single now, but you will be when your baby is very young. Are your parents close? If they offer money to help you, don't be too proud. Accept it.

Do you need a food bank? Don't be ashamed to call Winnipeg Harvest so you and the kids can eat. As for sex, start using condoms again, on any excuse. If your husband is upset, say you have a vaginal infection you could pass on. Protect yourself and your children from a sexually transmitted infection. Your husband has focused on his shortened life. You must stand up and become a protective Mama Bear to your children.


Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I read your response to Trouble in Paradise about the dog who sleeps with the couple and has bitten the husband when he was having sex with his wife. There are huge issues with the dog. For a dog to bark, growl, yap and even bite a person in the household means the dog has not been taught the "pack structure." The dog could be confused or sees itself as higher than "Trouble," who has to establish himself as the "alpha." They need to train the dog together and be on the same page or else the dog's behaviour will remain the same and could even escalate to the point he may begin to bite company. If they have kids, the dog will surely seek dominance over the children and then the children will get bitten. Unfortunately, in cases like that, the end result will be euthanasia for the dog when it could have been prevented.

They could benefit from trainers or books and DVDs about the subject. One resource I have found useful is the website They sell a video entitled Establishing Pack Structure. -- Animal Lover, Rural Manitoba


Dear Animal Lover: Thanks for your knowledgeable advice. Dogs need to know their place and are much more comfortable once they do.


Please send your questions or comments c/o or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg R2X 3B6.

Maureen Scurfield

Maureen Scurfield
Advice columnist

Maureen Scurfield writes the Miss Lonelyhearts advice column.

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Updated on Friday, May 2, 2014 at 10:49 AM CDT: Corrects name of pregnancy centre.

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