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DEAR ABBY: In 1977, when I discovered a lump in my breast, I was terrified! Nevertheless, I made an appointment to see my doctor, and a week after my "positive" biopsy, I had a modified radical mastectomy. I was devastated and depressed.

The third day after my surgery, a lovely, cheerful lady showed up in my hospital room and asked me if I had ever heard of "Reach to Recovery." I told her I had not. Then she went on to explain that my surgeon had contacted the American Cancer Society and requested that a volunteer from that organization pay me a visit.

This encouraging woman told me that she, too, had had a mastectomy. She gave me some exercises to do, and also gave me a "rest bra" and a temporary prosthesis. But the best thing she gave me was hope and assurance that I was still the same woman I had been before the surgery.

Since that time, I have become a volunteer in the Reach to Recovery program and have enjoyed the rewards of helping many other women who were as heartbroken and depressed as I had been before Reach to Recovery reached out to me. -- BARBARA J. MYHRE, BANDERA, TEXAS

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