Dear Ann:

One of the most important women in my life was my grandmother. You cannot imagine how difficult it was for me to watch her become weakened from osteoporosis. Determined not to let the same thing happen to me, I had a bone mineral density (BMD) test. It was easy and painless, and done in the doctor's office.

Although I lead a very active life, which includes regular exercise and a diet rich in calcium, I learned that I, too, have osteoporosis. This means my bones are thinning and are prone to fractures. Now that I know I am at risk, I can work with my doctor and do something about it. But there are still millions of women who don't know they have osteoporosis, and are at risk for life-threatening fractures. Reading this letter could make a big difference.

One in two women over 50 will suffer an osteoporosis-related fracture in her lifetime. That is why I have joined the osteoporosis awareness coalition, Strong Women Inside & Out, in an education campaign called "Stay Strong! Test Your Bone Strength," which urges post-menopausal women to talk to their doctors about getting a BMD test.

Ann, I hope you will help me reach those women who have still not received this important message. Please encourage your women readers who have gone through menopause to talk to their doctors about a bone density test as part of their regular health evaluation. For eligible beneficiaries over the age of 65, Medicare covers the cost of the test.

Debbie Reynolds, North Hollywood, Calif.

Thank you for a letter that could improve the quality of life for millions of women. You performed a valuable service by writing. (P.S.: I loved your films--saw several of them twice. My favorites were "Singin' in the Rain" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown.")

Dear Ann:

I have to add my two cents' worth about cats surviving their owners. I once worked for a veterinarian and saw too many healthy animals euthanized because their owners thought they couldn't adjust to a new home. It was heartbreaking.

I was given "Sweetie Pie" when her owner moved into a convalescent home. Sweetie was then 13, pampered, and much loved. She adjusted beautifully to our home and to seven successive moves. When our children were born, Sweetie accepted them with quiet grace, and tolerated their awkward attempts to pet her without scratching or biting. My daughter favored the old cat over her dolls, and pushed Sweetie around in her doll carriage for hours. The neighbors thought it was hilarious. Sweetie did indeed outlive her former owner, and left us at the age of 25, but she will live in our hearts forever.

I encourage anyone expecting a change in their lives that would affect their pets to give them a chance to adapt to a new home and owner. It is well worth the effort. We would have missed the tremendous blessing of knowing and loving Sweetie Pie for 12 years if her owner had decided to have her euthanized.

M.B., Shingle Springs, Calif.

I have heard your story before, and it certainly is a loud voice against euthanizing pets until all possible alternatives have been explored. Dog-lovers are going to hate me, but my mail over the years reflects a stronger bond between people and their cats than with their dogs.

To find out more about Ann Landers and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.2000, Creators Syndicate Inc.