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by Abigail Van Buren

Fear of Cancer Keeps Woman out of Doctor's Offices

DEAR ABBY: I am 24 and still a virgin. For the past 10 years I have had a vaginal infection. I'm scared that I can't have children. Because of this I have never allowed myself to date.

I'm terrified of going to a doctor. My father died of cancer when I was 17, and the thought of being diagnosed with cancer prevents me from going to get this looked at. I am very depressed about this and the stress is causing my hair to fall out. I need help, but I'm scared. What should I do? -- ANONYMOUS IN SANTA BARBARA, CALIF.

DEAR ANONYMOUS: You MUST see a doctor. If you need moral support, ask a trusted friend or relative to come with you. The only thing worse than dying of cancer would be to die of a disease that could have been cured had it been diagnosed early enough.

Although I am not licensed to practice medicine, allow me to suggest that if what you have is cancer, you would have known by now. That's why I'm urging you to act like the adult you are and talk to a gynecologist.

If you don't know of one or can't afford one, contact Planned Parenthood. It has clinics that provide the help you need. The caring people at Planned Parenthood will help you as they have helped many others, and they'll do it on a sliding payment scale, if necessary. Please let me hear from you again so I'll know you're OK.

Read more in: Health & Safety | Mental Health