Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Bill and I had 46 years together before I lost him to cancer. He was the kind of husband every woman needs.

In 1949, I had nine benign tumors removed from both breasts. Consequently, instead of a pretty bustline, I was left with two "bags."

Six months later, Bill and I were engaged. Three weeks before our wedding day, I found more lumps in my breasts. Heartsick, I told Bill and asked him if he wanted to call off our wedding. I told Bill if they operated again, even the "bags" might not make it.

He put his arms around me and said, "Don't worry, honey, whatever comes, we'll handle it." Then he smiled and added, "I am very fond of tangerines -- I never cared much for grapefruit."

Thank God it turned out to be scar tissue, and I went on to nurse all of our four wonderful children.

Abby, wasn't he a sweetie? -- VIRGINIA IN FLORIDA

DEAR VIRGINIA: Yes. You were blessed with an angel in disguise. My condolences on the loss of your sweetheart, who deserves a special place in heaven.

DEAR ABBY: "Wondering in Florida" expected to inherit a substantial sum of money and wanted information on charities to which she could donate.

I would like to remind her about colleges and scholarship programs when considering where to donate her inheritance. Education is expensive, and many qualified students cannot afford it. Establishing a scholarship program can be very rewarding.

Small colleges are the most forgotten and are in dire need of scholarship programs. Several years ago my husband and I set one up, and we're leaving our estate to a small college from which we graduated.

It is gratifying to know where your money is going. I have compiled a scrapbook of the many thank-you notes we have received from the recipients of our scholarships. Believe me, the money is appreciated! -- GLAD WE DID IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR GLAD: Yours is an excellent suggestion. Few deeds are more rewarding than helping a deserving young person create a bright future.

DEAR ABBY: "Angela in Savannah," a pharmacy intern who expressed frustration at the ignorance of her patients, asked, "Have you ever known anyone to EAT a suppository?"

Well, I have. During my nine years of nursing, I have known doctors to prescribe vaginal suppositories to be dissolved in the mouth for oral yeast infections. Guess what? It worked beautifully.

What Angela perceived as ignorance was a lack of communication between patients and the medical community. Consider this: When did the use of suppositories come up in your normal day-to-day conversation? How is one correctly used? Proper use of medication is not intuitive. If we, as medical professionals, convey the message that people would "know" such things, we discourage them from asking. By doing this, we contribute to their ignorance.

Perhaps we've forgotten our roots. The word "doctor" comes from the Latin word "docere," which means "to teach."

The most important lesson I have taught my patients: "There is no such thing as a dumb question." -- A LONGTIME NURSE, MORENCI, ARIZ.

For Abby's favorite family recipes, send a long, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Cookbooklet No. 1, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

4520 Main St., Kansas City, Mo. 64111; (816) 932-6600