Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Completing the Circle
As my sister, Joyce, always says, “There is a lesson in everything.” Joyce is always right (I will never live this statement down). Who knew I would learn so many powerful lessons in such a short time on this journey? I don’t know exactly when it started, but for longer than I can even remember, I have been someone who didn’t rely on others for assistance whenever possible. I never thought of this as a bad thing. I thought it made me stronger, self-sufficient, and independent. I never hesitate to help someone else or support a worthy cause as often as possible. Afterall, isn't it better to give than to receive? Until now, I never realized those values were in conflict.

I have always believed that a generous spirit and helping others was part of me trying to “be all I can be” in a spiritual and ethical sense. It is a natural response from a grateful heart. The lesson I have learned is that there is balance to this as well. The natural balance to this is receiving, which conflicts with my independent streak. This has been more than a crash course for me. Everything from receiving flowers, books, gifts, cards, sharing idle conversation just to make me laugh, daily hugs, taking me to doctor appointments, helping me with my dressing changes and flushing my catheter, helping shower me after surgery . . . the support I have received from so many people has been amazing. I’ve never once had to ask for any help. It has all been given generously without hesitation.

Yesterday my coworkers surprised me with a gift. I was humbled, inspired, and truly surprised. I had been talking with a couple of co-workers about borrowing a portable DVD player for chemo days. Treatment days are long days. This first series takes about 3 hours per treatment and the second series takes just over 4 hours per treatment. Being able to watch a movie during treatment seemed ideal. Everyone chipped in and gave me my very own portable DVD player and gift cards for movie rentals. I was speechless (yes – that is saying a lot!). Chemo is going to be so much easier to handle with this great diversion. I have always known how fortunate I am to work with this group of people. Any of us could go to work for a larger organization at a larger salary, but there is a reason we stay here. The supportive environment, camaraderie, and truly authentic leadership make this is a great place to work and grow.

The lesson for me is that in allowing others to help me, to be able to accept their gifts of support and compassion, gives me energy to concentrate on the more important things. It gives me the energy to smile and laugh and heal. It gives me the peace of mind to rest and rejuvenate. It gives me the comfort of knowing so many people are going through this with me. Giving, then, is only half the gift. Receiving completes the circle. Thank you to everyone not only for your gifts, but also for teaching me and inspiring me. You are making this so much easier for me in so many wonderful ways.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
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Name: Jeannette
Location: Southern California, USA

This is my story about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. I thought I was out of the woods, but four years late it came back. This is my quest to be a two-time survivor.

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