Dear Annie: I have been a practicing dermatologist for over 20 years. I love my profession. I am also a mother to two boys and a girl. Recently, my son who’s a senior in college came home for Thanksgiving. His new girlfriend came over to our house for dinner. He told me how much he likes her and that they had been dating for about three months. She was very polite and sweet, and I really like her. She even brought wine and appetizers for me.
Herein lies the problem. During dinner, I noticed a small lump on her neck. Though it is probably benign, there is a chance it’s not. It could be a precancerous growth. I wanted to tell her that she should really have that checked or ask her whether she had had it checked, but I bit my tongue. I later mentioned something to my son about it and said perhaps I could email her and let her know she should get a skin check to make sure the lump is not cancerous. My son refused to give me her email address and asked whether I could act like a mom and not like a doctor for one dinner. Am I wrong to want to contact her?
— Doctor Mother
Dear Doctor Mother: Your son is correct for the time being. You can’t always wear your stethoscope to the dinner table. It was good of you to express your concern about his girlfriend’s skin. Leave it at that while their relationship unfolds further. He will most likely bring up the concern you mentioned of his own volition. If he does not and if, as a professional, you really are worried, then you should tell the girl directly to have it checked out (by a dermatologist other than you). If your son truly cares for this girl, he shouldn’t be angry with you for caring about her, too.
Dear Annie: I wanted to write to you about the wonderful things people do, especially during the holiday season. I have a former work associate with stage 4 esophageal cancer. “Amy” lost two parents and a husband in the span of a few years and has been quite depressed. A wonderful friend of hers came up with an idea. On a special Facebook page, she recruited Amy’s friends to sign up for the 24 days prior to Christmas to become secret Santas and surreptitiously deliver presents to her house. She received clothes, perfumes, candles, gift certificates and myriad other items. This cheered her up immensely. On Christmas, we revealed the Facebook page to her.
This might give your readers an idea, if they have friends in need.
— Happy Secret Santa in Elmira
Dear Happy Secret Santa: Your letter gave me a big smile. What an inspiring use of social media. Thank you for sharing. Happy new year.
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