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MASTECTOMIES AREN'T THE END OF THE WORLD

Dear Abby: I would like to share my experience with "Inhibited and Embarrassed," who lost a breast to cancer.

I am a 41-year-old divorced mother of four - I am also a grandmother. I, too, had a radical mastectomy (last year), have undergone six months of chemotherapy and am facing a bone marrow transplant and radiation.Abby, I lost all of my hair - including my eyelashes. Needless to say, I was not a very pretty sight.

I have been dating a handsome, successful, 41-year-old bachelor for two years, and he never once made me feel that I was ugly or repulsive. I can tell by his touch that he still finds me attractive - and even sexy.

Yes, there are men out there who see beyond physical perfection and will love you for what you are - inside and out. I hope you find one of them.Dear Abby: By my 47th birthday, I had had a double mastectomy. There were only two things my surgery prevented me from doing: becoming a topless dancer and a nursing mother. I should add, neither would have been likely regardless of the surgery.

What I didn't realize, however, was that for many years I subconsciously remained in a marriage that was increasingly unsatisfying and hopeless. It was the fear of being alone that made me settle for this kind of marriage.

Finally, the situation got so bad that I took action and divorced. I am here to tell "Inhibited and Embarrassed" that I was amazed to find that I had many dates and one relationship before meeting and marrying a wonderful man. (We just celebrated our 10th anniversary.)

A real man is interested in the person the woman is. If all he wants is a pair of "boobs," what kind of woman would be interested in him?

When I asked my husband if he thought I should have reconstructive surgery, he replied, "Please don't do it for me - I love you just the way you are."

I'm age 63 and "breastless," but he makes me feel more like a beautiful, sexy woman than I ever have before.Dear Abby: I had a mastectomy at age 38, and thanks to modern plastic surgery, I look better now than I did at 18!

I had a reconstructive surgery on my left breast and an uplift on the other one. The results have done wonders for my morale. The surgeon used a saline solution implant, so there is no reason to worry about leakage.

If "Inhibited and Embarrassed" hesitates to date because of fear of rejection, she should consider reconstructive surgery. She could very well end up looking better and feeling better than before. I did.Dear Abby: To "Inhibited and Embarrassed," who was worried about the effect her radical mastectomy would have on suitors: You have the greatest built-in screening test a woman could ask for. After the man really gets to know you as a person, tell him. If he runs, you got rid of a real jerk, and it didn't take a divorce to do it. You may say "adios" to a lot of frogs, but you won't have any trouble recognizing a prince when he comes along.

Hang in there - not all men are looking for wet-nursing; some of us are grown up.

- Larry in Ann Arbor, Mich.Everything you'll need to know about planning a wedding can be found in Abby's booklet, "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." To order, send a long, business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054. (Postage is included.)

1992 Universal Press Syndicate