Ask Amy: Potential Cancer Leads to Biological Father

By Amy Dickinson | December 21st, 2020

Is your health worth spilling a huge secret?


Phone call to biological father Image

Dear Amy: In 1956, my mother had a fling with an airman. Nine months, later I arrived.

Apparently, he was married and within a couple of months of my birth there were court proceedings and he paid my mother $2,500 with the agreement that she would not ever contact him again. We didn’t.

Being a single mother was tough on my mother, but she provided what we needed.

Mom died in 1990, so I thought I would contact my biological father. We corresponded twice that year. Both times he was cordial, but he never acknowledged his part of my existence. He did acknowledge that he knew my mother. His last words to me were, “I live a nice quiet life here.”

Through research on the internet, I’ve learned that he was married in 1955 and had children. His wife died in 2010 and he died in 2012. We never met.

This is my dilemma: In his obit, it mentioned that “he had a long struggle with cancer.”

I need to know what cancer he had. I have a condition that could turn cancerous. Should I contact his family and inquire? I’m pretty sure they know nothing about me.

— Related

Dear Related: Yes, you should contact the family. When you do so, you should make sure to convey that you are seeking medical information that could have a very real impact on your life and health. Tell them that you and your biological father corresponded briefly 30 years ago, but never met in person.

If there are court records of the arrangement between him and your mother, it would be helpful for you to have copies, in case they have questions.


Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2020 by Amy Dickinson

More from Boomer