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DEAR ABBY: I am a 16-year-old girl. Each day at lunch, my friend, "Lily," runs to the bathroom right after she eats. I'm pretty sure she's throwing up. Lily's other friends agree with me, because one of them heard puking noises coming from a bathroom stall Lily went into.

I don't know what the word is for making yourself throw up, but I do know it can ruin your health and could even kill you. My sister says that Lily needs to understand her behavior is dangerous to her health, but I'm afraid she'll feel betrayed if I tell. What should I do? -- ANONYMOUS IN SANTA ROSA, CALIF.

DEAR ANONYMOUS: Lily is fortunate to have such a caring friend as you. The name for her problem is bulimia, and you are correct that it is very serious. Once people get into the habit of vomiting their food after eating, it may take professional intervention and therapy to stop.

I urge you to tell a trusted teacher or counselor at school what you have written to me. Lily's parents must be told that she has a serious problem. Her health and possibly her life could depend upon it. You should also tell your mother. I'm sure she'll be proud she has such an intelligent and proactive daughter.

DEAR ABBY: I am 52 and have been a widow for nearly 10 years. I am going with a wonderful guy, "Gus," who had quadruple bypass surgery a year ago. Gus is 53. He takes care of himself by watching his diet and doing aerobics. My mother thinks I should break up with him because of his health problems. I've also had health problems -- a blood clot two years ago and total knee replacement early last year.

Gus and I love each other and feel we can support each other through our health challenges. Should I listen to my mother and lead a lonely life -- or make a lifelong commitment to Gus? -- HAPPY AGAIN IN MICHIGAN

DEAR HAPPY AGAIN: Your mother means well, but listen to your heart. It's not the length of your years, but how well you live them that counts. Since Gus takes care of himself, you could both live long, happy lives together.

DEAR ABBY: I appreciated learning about the VISION USA free eye-care program that was recently mentioned in your column, but I want you and your readers to know that there are also other assistance programs available. Every day I see working people who can't afford insurance for themselves and their families. That is where the Lions clubs come in.

Many Lions clubs provide assistance with free eye care (exams, glasses and surgery) for those in need. There are approximately 1.4 million members in more than 44,600 clubs in 190 countries. Over the years, the Lions have extended their service to help with hearing exams, hearing aids and medical assistance for diabetics. We work with local eye-care professionals to help children and adults.

To get in touch with your local Lions club, check community resources or visit www.lionsclubs.org. We are ordinary citizens trying to help needy people in our local areas. We also support youth programs, community development, eyeglass recycling and much more. Thank you, Abby, for your longtime support of the Lions clubs throughout the world. -- SANDY CARAWAN, GREAT BRIDGE LIONS CLUB, CHESAPEAKE, VA.

DEAR SANDY: You are the people who should be thanked for contributing to your communities in such an important way by helping people who could not otherwise find assistance.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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

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