Sunday, March 13, 2005
If Not Now, When?
It is surprising how much this last expansion affected me this past week. It was such a busy week and at every movement I was slowed down by the unbelievable tightness, primarily around the scar tissue just below my incisions. The worst part was that it hurt when I laughed. How unfair is that? If nothing else, I have relied on my ability to laugh at myself or in the face of cancer to get through this whole situation. I can say that on this day, one week after my doctor's appointment, while it still is tight, it is not near as painful. This is something for which I gladly give thanks.

I still have so many thoughts that come in and out of my mind in relation to my cancer experience (bear with me, this could be a wild ride!). Although, days go by where I don't actually think about cancer. Those days are rare, but at least they are beginning to happen. Something may spark the thought, like when I got a phone call from the bone marrow registry that I was identified as a match for someone. When they asked if my medical history had changed, I had to tell them I had breast cancer. That effectively removed me from the list of donors permanently and dwindled the hope for someone out there needing a bone marrow match. I was crushed. It was the first time I was truly angry that I had cancer. I just prayed that there were more matches for this person.

It made me start thinking about how simple it is to do something for another person that can have a lasting impact on his/her life. Not just in this example, but in so many ways. We have become a society that rarely even stops to smile at someone. Our days start with breakfast "from a bag" while we wait impatiently for a barrista to whip up some high sugar-caffeine-but perhaps-fat-free coffee concoction (with whipped topping though), then back out into traffic forcing everyone to wait for you to speed off to work. And that is just the first part of the day. There are many other ways we are inconsiderate throughout the day. People don't stop to make eye contact, let alone greet one another or hold the door open. When did this happen? Or more importantly, why did this happen? If you could do something that didn't take too much effort on your part, but it meant a great deal to someone else, why wouldn't you? I mean this in the simplest of ways to the more complicated ways.
  • If someone is trying to merge into your lane on the highway and it appears they are in a great rush, why not let them? It won't make that much difference in your travel time, but it may to theirs. Next time it might be you.
  • If you see someone who looks frightened or sad, rather than turn away or keep your distance, why not smile or say hello? Think of the last time you were upset and a stranger smiled or asked if you were okay. Didn't it make a difference even if only for a moment?
  • If you see someone trying to cross the street, why not stop and safely let them pass? How long could it take? How late could it make you to wherever you are going?
  • If there has been a terrible accident or disaster and local hospitals are calling for blood donations and you have no medical restrictions in giving blood, why not take the time to donate? You never know when it will be your husband or sister or best friend who will end up receiving it.
  • If you are doing your grocery shopping and see a great bargain on some staple grocery item, why not pick up an extra for a food bank? I know, just one can or pouch of tuna seems like it won't make a difference, but what if 10 shoppers at every grocery store in the nation did it each day?
  • If you see a piece of trash that fell to the side of the road, why not pick it up? Everyone thinks a street sweeper or someone else will get it. If each driver picked up one piece of trash everyday, imagine how much different our world would look.
  • If someone was suffering from cancer and their only hope of recovery was a bone marrow transplant, wouldn't you want to help if you could physically/medically? If you had the means, the ability, the compassion, wouldn't you?

It is easy to justify and rationalize why we don't do something for others or show more compassion in this world. A kind act doesn't need to be justified or rationalized. We ar so busy we don't take time for one another. What we don't realize, is that we make life more difficult by isolating ourselves from one another. We think that, someday, when we have more time . . . . Kindness, generosity, compassion, respect, love. . . . if not now, when?

Go out and make it a great day . . . for you and someone else.

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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