Cancer patient’s wig draws others’ unwanted attention

DEAR ABBY: I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and I am undergoing chemotherapy. My children are still in school. I’ve lost all my hair and wear a wig when I’m in the community. It’s very close to my pre-cancer haircut, except it’s a little shorter with highlights.

Acquaintances have seen me at events and complimented me on my hair. Some have asked questions like, “Have you done anything different with your hair? It looks great!” and, “Your hair looks so different. Have you done anything new?” I prefer not to share my diagnosis with these people. One person even started touching my hair! What is the correct response? When I replied, “Thank you,” they stared at me, waiting for more explanation.

— Wig bearer in Sacramento, California.

BEST WIG BEARER: You are not required to discuss your medical records with “acquaintances”.”Thank you” should have been enough. But since it wasn’t, I suspect the people doing the research realized you were wearing a wig.

I discussed your question with Piny of Beverly Hills, a tall wig maker for show business performers and cancer patients. He told me that answering the question can be as simple as saying you saw it online or in a store, thought it was cute, and liked wearing it. During our conversation, he shared another tidbit: many people wear wigs and extensions these days, for various reasons. So many adults have dull or thinning hair that your healthy, shiny locks are somewhat unusual, which may be why people polled you.

That said, consider taking your wig to a beauty salon and talking to a hairdresser about what you’re encountering. Wigs that aren’t tailored can have so much hair that they don’t look natural – especially if the wearer didn’t have thick hair to begin with. A good hairdresser can thin out the wig for you so that it looks more natural.

DEAR ABBY: I’ve been living with a secret for over 17 years. I have a sister and a brother who think I’m their cousin. My father doesn’t want me to tell his wife or them the truth: he had an affair with my mother while he was engaged, and I was the result.

My father and I stopped talking a year ago. Since I don’t have to worry about disappointing him anymore, I think now is the right time to tell them. What do you think? Can I tell them now and possibly enter into some sort of relationship with them? They are now in their mid to late twenties.

— Secret child

BEST SECRET CHILD: Since your half siblings are grown now, I see no reason why you should shut up and keep protecting your father. However, since you haven’t been close to them, I warn you that your news may not be warmly received or considered “good” news, especially by their mother.

Dear Abby was written by Abigail Van Buren, aka Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or PO Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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