Dear Ann Landers, I lost my wife of 38 years, the love of my life, to cancer, and now I feel that her death was my fault. Years ago, she had a bruise on her breast that would not go away, but she refused to see a doctor. After a while, the skin on her breast took on a thick "orange peel" appearance. Despite my pleading, she would not see her doctor about it. More time passed.
She started leaning against walls in order to navigate and thought it was probably an inner-ear infection. She agreed to see the doctor for an antibiotic. After many tests, the doctor determined she had multiple brain tumors that had metastasized from breast cancer.
I'm convinced that if I had dragged my wife to a doctor when I found out the bruise wouldn't go away, the cancer might have been controllable. Because of neglect, my wife went through two years of radiation and chemotherapy -- all the while wondering when the inevitable would occur. We spent that time traveling and doing things we had always wanted to do together.
When we returned from Hawaii last August, my wife began to deteriorate. Caring for her those last few weeks and watching her slip away was a nightmare. I beg your readers to see a doctor immediately if they detect a bruise that won't go away or if they find a lump or a mole anywhere. Because we waited too long, I lost my lover, my wife and my pal. -- A.V.
Dear A.V., I hope it will be a comfort to you in your time of grief to know that because you wrote to me, the lives of countless other women will be saved. Your description of the symptoms was wonderfully explicit. Thirty-eight years with the love of your life isn't a bad run. Thank you, good friend. You've performed a marvelous service today.