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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: For several years, a group of ladies at work have held fundraisers so they could participate in cancer charity walks. We have all donated willingly, but someone recently pointed out something disturbing.

Every year, this group travels to a different location for the walk, using the funds they have raised for the charity. There is a walk within driving distance. The funds they raise could be donated to the cause instead of spent on flights, hotels, meals, etc. One of them commented that they "might as well get something out of it."

Are we wrong to feel this is not a good thing? Someone said we're paying for their vacation. At this point we are confused about the whole mess. Any comments? -- BAFFLED IN NEW ENGLAND

DEAR BAFFLED: You're not wrong. Any monies raised the way these "ladies" have done should have been donated to cancer research. The comment your co-worker made to you was revealing. What you have described sounds like fraud. What those women should have "gotten out of it" was the satisfaction of knowing they were doing something for a worthy cause. This would not include treating themselves to a group vacation. If you continue to support this effort, the check(s) should be made payable to the charity.

DEAR ABBY: Are there any rules of etiquette involving unwanted guests at funerals? While I have many loved ones and friends, I have also made a few enemies in my life. I have made clear to my husband that I do not want "certain people" to be allowed to attend my funeral when I die.

I have always found it distasteful when folks show up at funerals for someone they disliked or didn't know well. It ruins it for those who really did love the deceased. I do not want my enemies trying to make themselves feel better by showing up and pretending they cared.

My husband is against the idea. I made him promise that he'd do this for me because, even though I'll be dead and may not care then, I do care very much now.

P.S. My husband wants to know how one would keep people away from a funeral in the first place. -- PLANNIN' AHEAD IN SODDY-DAISY, TENN.

DEAR PLANNIN': Let's hold a good thought that you'll be around for a long, long time and outlive your enemies. However, if that doesn't happen, a way to ensure that only those you want to attend your funeral will be there is to make it "invitation only." And when your death is announced in the newspaper, it should be stated that the service will be private.

DEAR ABBY: I have been seeing the same gynecologist for eight years. I trust her with my health and my privacy. She recently moved to a new practice and I would like to follow her. My problem is the wife of one of my co-workers is an employee in the new office, and I'm worried that patient confidentiality may not extend to "pillow talk." How do I handle this delicate situation? -- VALUES MY PRIVACY IN SOUTH CAROLINA

DEAR VALUES: Handle it by having a frank talk with your gynecologist, explaining that one of your co-workers is married to an employee in the new office, and asking her how she plans to guarantee your privacy. Explain that you would like to remain her patient, but that this has raised a red flag for you.

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