Saturday, May 28, 2005
The Last of Relay, I Promise
". . . doctors who showed empathy and acknowledged their patients' fears and anxieties were more effective than doctors who kept patients at an emotional arm's length." --Dr. Mercola

As you can tell, the Relay for Life was a great event. As I run into people who were part of the event, we get all giddy and start with,"Remember when ...." And there are knicknames and inside jokes that have now become part of the fabric of our friendship. It is both beautiful and ironic how we have bonded over cancer.

Speaking of bonding, for those of you that have not been within verbal earshot, I feel the need to immortalize within the pages of this blog, the highlight of seeing my favorite surgeon at the Relay. If I have already told you this story personally, then by all means skip this post.

Before I start this story, I want to add that I never thought I would have a "favorite surgeon", let alone "a" surgeon. Throughout this process I have had five. My favorite one performed three separate surgical procedures (lumpectomy, sentinel node biopsy & catheter insertion, catheter removal). Then there were four that worked on my bilateral mastectomy with immediate reconstruction: two that worked together on the mastectomies (chief of staff and his chief resident) and two that worked on part one of the reconstruction (chief of staff and his chief resident). They have all been highly qualified and performed excellently. My favorite surgeon was much more significant on the overall journey as he was the one I started with and he is the one who gave me such great guidance along the way including the procedures he wouldn't be performing.

I had this weird premonition that I might see him and, at one point, as I looked up at the people walking the track, there he was. He gave me a big hug and seemed really pleased to see me (Or was that a reflection of my joy to see him?). I got the chance to talk with him for minute each lap and again when he returned the next morning. He had a big smile each time he saw me that was reassuring. A smile that somehow said, "Look at you - you made it." Even though I know I am here and all results to date have been positive, to see it in his eyes was significant for me.

After I last saw this surgeon last November, he told me to keep in touch and let him know how everything turned out with the pending mastectomy and pathology. When I received a copy of the pathology report, I sent him a copy with a personal note expressing my gratitude. You know, a sappy note basically stating I would name my children after him if I could have children and that I have a classic case of infatuation and much sadness that I don't have any legitimate reason to see him again. He responded with a very nice note that melted me like a snowman in Southern California. What can I say, I feel pretty lucky that he was part of my team. He will likely always melt me.
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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