DEAR ABBY: The letter from Marvin H. Leaf, D.D.S., who listed some prominent people who had died of lung cancer, struck a very painful chord within me.
Dr. Leaf mentioned Steve McQueen among those who had died as a result of smoking. Abby, Steve McQueen died of a malignant pleural mesothelioma, which is almost always due to long-term exposure to asbestos and is completely unrelated to smoking. I understand that Mr. McQueen at one time worked as an automobile brake repairman, which would have exposed him to asbestos on a daily basis.
My mother was a physician and the director of health for Alamance County, North Carolina. She was also a tireless crusader for good health habits. Two years ago, she died of malignant pleural mesthelioma. My mother never smoked nor was she exposed to asbestos, and we have no idea why she developed lung cancer.
I certainly do not appreciate Dr. Leaf's implication that all lung cancers are the result of smoking and should be so publicized in the obituaries of the deceased.
You will no doubt hear from many other families who were equally offended by Dr. Leaf's misinformation, and I am sure that as usual you will set the record straight. -- JILL B. KOURY, M.D.
DEAR DR. KOURY: Thank you for writing. I tried to locate Dr. Leaf, who is now retired and has an unlisted telephone number. I hope that after this appears in my column, he will write again and set the record straight.
DEAR ABBY: I think Dr. Leaf was absolutely correct when he said the public has the right to know the cause of death when a prominent person dies.
At 35 years of age, I have already lost a father and my best friend to lung cancer from smoking. Meanwhile, some members of my family continue to smoke.
I only wish that we non-smokers could do more to help those nicotine addicts kick the habit. Actually, the ones I would really like to fight are the tobacco companies. -- BEEN "CLEAN" FOR FOUR YEARS
DEAR "CLEAN": Congratulations, but please don't blame the tobacco companies. We live in a country where people have a right to choose, and adults are responsible for the choices they make.
DEAR ABBY: I am writing for the four of us who are widows. We would like to know the proper time to stop wearing our wedding rings. Is it proper to continue wearing them as long as we are not looking for another mate?
We all four have different views on the subject. Please let us know, Abby. I'm sure there are others out there who would also like to know. -- WONDERING WIDOWS
DEAR WONDERING: A widow who has no interest in looking for another mate may continue to wear her wedding ring on the third finger of her left hand; it will serve as a very effective "stop" sign should a single man find her attractive. (Not always -- but usually.) Widows who want to date again wisely switch their wedding band to the other hand or retire it to the jewelry box.
Hot off the press -- Abby's new booklet, "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." 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, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054. (Postage is included.)
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