DEAR ABBY: My husband has lost a significant amount of weight over a very short period of time. He isn’t on drugs and eats well. I have begged him to see a doctor. He has come up with a variety of excuses and reasons why he has lost the weight. First it was because he was stressed at work. Then it was because he was stressed at home. Now he says he just needs to eat and exercise more, but he’s “SOOO busy,” but he’ll start eventually.

It has become a problem for several reasons. One, all the church ladies have concluded that I don’t cook at home (which I do). Two, he looks so ill and malnourished that people are asking me if he is on drugs (he has been tested at work, and this is not the case). Three, friends and family are deeply concerned but scared to approach him about his health because he swears he feels fine and is actually doing wonderfully.

Abby, I love my husband. He’s a good man, although he can sometimes be stubborn and closed-minded. I’m terrified that he’s dying of cancer and he’s going to leave me a single mom. I can no longer discuss the subject of weight with him because he gets extremely defensive and says I should just give him time to get back to how he was. How long do I give him? It has been 10 months. I’m afraid if this goes on any longer, it will put a strain on our relationship that won’t be easily fixed by just talking it out. — ALARMED IN LOUISIANA

DEAR ALARMED: Some people foolishly avoid going to the doctor because they are afraid of what they will hear. You SHOULD be alarmed because your husband’s sudden, unexplained, prolonged weight loss can be a symptom of a life-threatening illness.

This is not a question of how or how well you cook (bless those church ladies!), or whether your husband is on drugs. It is a question of you alerting his doctor, explaining what’s going on and possibly saving his life. If he won’t listen to reason, put it in terms of him being alive long enough to see his child/children into adulthood. But if he still won’t listen to reason, then all you can do is make sure his affairs are in order in case the worst happens.

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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