Unless somebody had access to your computer and removed the programs, either you did it yourself, or they are still there, I should say.
Start>Programs is just a set of shortcuts to the programs in c:\program files. So go into Explorer, open c:\program files and see if you can find folders that have a name like Office or MS Office or Office 97 (or whatever they were put in at install time). Or do a search/find for winword.exe and excel.exe (that's how these programs are named technically).
If found try to run them by double click on it. If that works, you can make now shortcuts to them on the desktop or in Start>Programs.
If not found, you'll have to reinstall them from the MS Office CD.
Hope this helps.
I can't seem to access it any longer and it does not appear in my programs list. Could I have lost it somehow? I am not a computer techie so I would appreciate any help you can give me.