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

by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: My cousin, "Hazel," was recently told by her doctor that she must lose 75 pounds. She tells me that sticking to her diet is almost impossible. Years ago, you printed a prayer for dieters in your column. It was based on the 23rd Psalm. I kept a copy of it for years, but I lost it. Would you please print it again? -- SYMPATHETIC IN TAOS, N.M.

DEAR SYMPATHETIC: I couldn't locate the prayer you requested, but the premise intrigued me -- so I wrote one myself. I hope it inspires your friend. I empathize with her. By the way, she's not alone. I am told that one-third of all Americans are overweight. Read on:


The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;

He maketh me to lie down on vinyl-covered gym mats.

He leadeth me to flavored calorie-free waters;

He restoreth my goals.

He diverteth me from the path of midnight snacking for my health's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the alley of the Vendors of Pastry, I will fear no weevil; for thou art with me;

My diet and exercises, they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me

Spread with veggies and low-fat protein;

Thou steameth my fish in foil,

My resolve runneth over.

Surely, if I follow this living plan all the days of my life,

My hips will be slim forever.


DEAR ABBY: A little over a year ago, after reading your column about a man who had experienced testicular cancer, I was prompted to examine myself. It was something I had never thought about until that day. Not once had I ever considered the possibility that it could actually happen to me.

Sure enough, I found a large lump that sent a cold chill down my spine. My general practitioner didn't think it was anything to be concerned about. But I was still worried, so I made an appointment for a second opinion with a urologist. He had a waiting list a month long, but the morning after I consulted him I found myself in the hospital having my first surgery.

Now, one year later, after two surgeries and six weeks of chemotherapy, I am 99 percent cured and feeling great.

Thank you, Abby, for raising my awareness about this serious disease. I can't stress strongly enough the extreme importance of self-examination and early detection. Your column saved my life. -- GRATEFUL GUY IN MARYLAND

DEAR GRATEFUL: I'm pleased that my column helped you. The American Cancer Society informs me that when testicular cancer is diagnosed early, it is highly curable. Testicular self-examinations are quick and easy, and should be performed once a month. A simple way to do it is while taking a shower. For more information, contact the American Cancer Society by calling the toll-free number (800) 227-2345 or visiting the Web site:

To order "How to Write Letters for All Occasions," send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby -- Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included in the price.)

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