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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I am 34 years old and coach high school volleyball and basketball. I was diagnosed with breast cancer last November. I had a radical mastectomy on Wednesday, Nov. 20, and was at our green-and-gold basketball game Saturday, Nov. 23. I returned to practice on Monday, Nov. 26. I haven't missed a practice or a basketball game from that time on.

I owe my speedy recovery to the support of my family, friends, players and co-workers. Nothing heals better than love, hope and a purpose. I have found that each good day has turned into a good week. Each good week has turned into a good month, and with God's grace, each good month will turn into a good year and a good lifetime.

My advice to breast cancer victims: Get back to your life as soon as possible. Use your friends for support. Find the best doctors and treatment you can, then find a way to enjoy the life you have been given.

By the end of December, I had played one-on-one basketball and gone bowling and swimming. I constantly looked for ways to challenge myself to be "normal" again. Breast cancer is not a death sentence. As a matter of fact, it has been a wake-up call to life. Even with breast cancer, it's great to be alive. -- MADELYN FLENOR, ALMA, ARK.

DEAR MADELYN: I am printing your letter as an inspiration to other breast cancer survivors. Your letter is truly amazing. However, people must keep in mind that not everyone heals at the same rate, and should give themselves permission to experience their recovery at their own pace. The best of luck to you.

DEAR ABBY: I am very worried about my 32-year-old son. I'll call him "Rob." He is the oldest of three sons, all of whom still live at home. My two younger sons are doing well. However, Rob is very shy and solitary. He was fired from each of the three jobs he has held (as a computer programmer) -- ostensibly for being slow. He was advised by one of his supervisors to get into Toastmasters. He never did.

He lost his most recent job almost a year and a half ago. He now seems to be in a rut and has made no effort to find employment. His only social contact apparently is a weekly bike ride with his bike club.

I work, so I am out of the house five days a week. He has continued to pay room and board, as he had considerable savings. However, those savings are now drying up, and I cannot and will not pay his car insurance bill when it's due.

I keep urging him to get his resume up-to-date and start looking for work. He doesn't even glance at the help-wanted ads. His brothers have both expressed the opinion that he needs therapy -- but doesn't he have to want to get help for himself?

Two months ago I set a time limit of six weeks in which he had to be "actively seeking employment" or move in with his father. He did nothing except work on his resume a minimal amount. He justifies his lack of action by saying that he just keeps procrastinating. I did not enforce the penalty and make him move out.

I have a feeling he'll wait until he's almost broke and this may spur him into action. But then I worry that he may get fired all over again and his confidence will suffer even more.

I feel I should do something for him, but I'm not sure what. Any suggestions you could offer would be tremendously appreciated. -- WORRIED MOTHER, NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CALIF.

DEAR WORRIED MOTHER: Your son is overdue for a physical examination and a mental evaluation. He is not operating on all cylinders, and he needs more help than I can offer in a letter.

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.)

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