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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Your response to "Frustrated and Unappreciated," the mammographer who found it irritating to be asked, "Is this all you do, all day long?" was right on the mark. However, "Frustrated" also needs to gain a deeper understanding of her patients, as well as sensitivity toward them.

Has it not occurred to her that perhaps that question was an attempt at "small talk" by women who felt uncomfortable having a mammogram? Because of my medical and family history, I have had mammograms yearly since I was 35. After 10 years, I still do not find the procedure of having the mammographer touch me to lift, pull and smash a personal part of my body between two plates of plastic something I look forward to or feel comfortable with. Usually the mammographer is a different health-care professional from the prior year, therefore, a stranger. I have had mammographers who made me feel as much at ease as possible, but I have also experienced a few who treated my breast as if a woman was not attached to it.

"Frustrated" needs to understand and empathize. It's important she remember that her job in performing mammographies is more routine for her than it is for her patients. Perhaps understanding this will help her to focus on her patients' feelings, and not become frustrated over a question. -- DOES IT, BUT DOESN'T LIKE IT, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

DEAR DOES IT: I suspect that the reason the majority of women "do it but don't like it" has something to do with modesty, and also the fact that it's like stepping up to a slot machine that reminds us of our potential mortality. In fairness to the majority of mammographers, I have found them to be efficient, gentle and caring. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am writing in response to "Frustrated and Unappreciated Mammographer":

Please, do not think for a minute that you are unappreciated. Without your dedication and professionalism, I and many others would be a statistic instead of a survivor. Breast cancer, which has no symptoms, would go undetected without you.

I thank God every day that you "do what you do all day long." I am forever grateful that you were a part of my life. We may not have a chance to thank each of you personally, but for me and all of those others, I say, "Thank you! We need you."

Each day you go to work, another lucky woman may be saved. Together, we will someday wipe out this disease. I am forever in your debt. -- JOY HOPKINS, MARCO ISLAND, FLA.

DEAR JOY: (You are aptly named!) When people are stressed out or ill, they're often unable to express their gratitude to the caring individuals who go the extra mile on their behalf. Your letter is sure to be appreciated not only by mammographers nationwide, but by every health-care professional who reads it.

DEAR ABBY: I'm being married next year and I need to know -- when I send out "save-the-date" cards for my wedding, do I send them to everyone I'm inviting, or only to out-of-town guests? I'm not sure which way to go. What's your advice? -- LAURA IN PHOENIX

DEAR LAURA: "Save-the-date" cards are typically sent to announce forthcoming charity events. You should not send one for a wedding. Your wedding invitations -- which should be sent four to six weeks in advance -- should be enough notice.

However, if you think that some of your prospective guests might have a schedule conflict at that time, telephone them with the good news and ask them to save the date.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a 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 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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