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by Abigail Van Buren

Commuters Keep Their Seats as Pregnant Woman Stands

DEAR ABBY: What is this world coming to? I live in an affluent suburb of Boston, and commute by subway to my job in the city. This morning I boarded a full train and took the last empty seat. Just as the doors were closing, a blind woman and her guide dog got on. I waited about 10 seconds (count it, Abby -– it's a long time). No one offered the woman a seat, so I gave her mine. She graciously accepted.

What the woman couldn't see -– but everyone else on the train could –- is that I am eight months pregnant. For the next half-hour, I stood with aching back and swollen ankles, jerking and swaying with every movement of the train, while college kids and well-dressed executive types in their 30s watched, sipped their coffee, read the sports section and offered zilch.

A pregnant woman gives up her seat on the train to a blind woman, while everyone else sits contentedly? If their mothers only knew! Sign me ... ONE MONTH TO GO IN HINGHAM, MASS.

DEAR ONE MONTH TO GO: If their mothers only knew? Dear lady, if their mothers had taken the time to teach them manners and empathy for others, someone in the passenger car would have given you a seat.

If any of your fellow passengers were young women -– what goes around comes around. As to the men -– it shows that living in wealthy suburbs doesn't guarantee that the residents have class.

DEAR ABBY: I am currently in my fourth month of survival following a fight with cancer.

When I was first diagnosed, I consulted an oncologist recommended by my general practitioner. Even though the doctor was obviously not busy, I was kept waiting in a dark, quiet, depressing room. When he finally did see me, he hadn't reviewed my file. He didn't call me by my first name or know my test results. He made me feel unimportant. I didn't go back.

A second oncologist was recommended. The difference was night and day. This doctor performed all the tests himself. He answered every question my wife and I had. When he was satisfied that all the questions were answered, he asked what I wanted from him. I said, "Save my life." He immediately put me on chemotherapy.

During the next five months, when I visited his office, his staff knew me by name, greeted me with a smile, and were emotionally supportive. The nurses administering the chemo were upbeat, encouraging and made me feel they cared about me.

Being surrounded by positive energy was extremely important to my recovery. Attitude is a vital element in the recovery process.

Bless the doctors, nurses and staff who helped me. They realized I was a person, and more than a printout of lab results. –- A CANCER SURVIVOR, NORTH HILL, CALIF.

DEAR SURVIVOR: I'm pleased that your cancer treatment was successful. You were wise to switch oncologists after that first consultation. Not all physicians have a good bedside manner, but if they don't, the smart ones hire support staff that can create an atmosphere that's warm, personal and reassuring to patients.

Medicine is not only a profession, but it is also a business. And people in business must be sensitive to customer relations if they're going to be successful.

Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.

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