ETCETERA / ANgST: Expert advice on your problems

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The Independent Culture
Write to Angst, The Sunday Review, The Independent on Sunday,

40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB.

I am 33, and have recently had testicular cancer diagnosed. I am told that the treatment for this is very effective, but I cannot get away from a fear of infertility and sexual dysfunction, and the feeling that family roles will change drastically. It seems there is nothing I can do but I feel frightened and need some kind of help.

Talking about these worries with a counsellor may help to untangle the painful feelings. Men treated for this disease do, in the majority of cases, experience little if any change in the areas you are worried about. A relapse, which many people fear, is very rare and can be treated. Research with which I have been involved has shown that counselling can be extremely useful. I suggest you go to your GP, or the doctor treating you, for advice on how to find a counsellor.

Clare Moynihan, medical sociologist, Royal Marsden Hospital, Sutton, Surrey. Bacup (the British Association of Cancer United Patients) has an advice line with a trained nurse who can offer practical information and emotional support, and who may be able to suggest a support group and names of individual counsellors. Outside London Freephone: 0800 181199; within London: 071-613 2121.

My husband and I have been married for four months, though we were together for some time before that. My stepdaughter, who is six, was initially friendly. We take Jane and her brothers out most weekends, and they stay with us every other weekend. But over the last few weeks Jane has become very aggressive, and when her father is not there, very uncooperative. Her mother is being difficult over maintenance and I feel certain her feelings are not helping Jane. I try to keep on an even keel with her and make no big fuss about anything. I want to reassure her that it's OK to feel angry about her feeling that I have taken her Daddy away, but I don't know how to do it.

The best thing is to keep a very low profile. If Jane is with you at weekends when, presumably, your husband is around, let him do most of the parenting. If you do have to discipline Jane yourself, look to your new partner for support. He could say, for instance: 'Susan says do this and I want you to do it . . .' so that she does not feel you are picking on her. She has every reason to feel angry. Almost all children, when their parents divorce, have a dream of them getting back together again - and you get in the way of that. Be careful about not seeming as if you want to replace Jane's mother: your role is as another caring adult in her life. It is natural to want to love Jane and be loved by her straightaway, but we set ourselves up for failure by believing this will happen immediately. It certainly can happen, but it usually takes time.

Robin Blandford, Stepfamily, 72 Willesden Lane, London NW6 7TA, tel: 071-372 0844.

I am an 18-year-old student and I plan to take a year off after finishing my A-levels. I would like to teach for a few months in a school in Africa but have no idea whether my A-levels (hopefully) in French, Maths and Art will qualify me for this. Whom should I approach for information?

Schools, often in rural areas in developing countries, are often very keen to have A-level students to help with teaching. The need for education - in Africa, for example - is very great. A young person who is serious about wanting to teach, and is prepared to work hard, put up with the living conditions (which will be considerably more austere than at home) and adapt to local culture, is usually very welcome. Commitment tends to be more valuable than stunning grades. There are several organisations which place students. These include Gap, Schools Partnership Worldwide and Project Trust. The Daneford Trust places students in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. We help the students to raise sponsorship money to pay their fare and living expenses, and organise meetings with students who have been to the country they will visit. We also contact an appropriate school, organise travel and length of stay, and keep in contact with students when they are out there.

Anthony Stevens, director, The Daneford Trust, 18 Cheverell House, Pritchards Road, London E2 9BN, tel: 071- 729 1928/071-739 4690 (answering machine).