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The Boston Globe

Magazine

Miss Conduct

Difficult conversations

Discussing health issues with family. Plus, struggling to find a name for a “celebration” and to shut down insults.

I have breast cancer that reappeared a year ago, leading to the usual round of emergency room visits, hospital stays, and surgeries. My stepson and his wife have wanted to know details, but if I tell them anything, they get tightlipped and start talking about their own (more minor) physical problems. If I say I’m doing well and don’t elaborate, they don’t seem to believe it (it’s obviously not the whole story) and look disgruntled. What can I say that will end this very unwanted interaction?

S.J. / Brookline

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