Sunday, July 31, 2005
The Seven Dwarves of Recovery: Snarky, Happy, Bitchy, Cheerful, Crampy, Teary, and Joyful*
*Also known as "Look What You Have to Look Forward to, Rae"

Contrary to the title of this post, I can honestly say that I have been feeling great for at least a week now. A whole week straight. This is most likely the first time in over a year that I find this to be true. I didn't realize it at first. I was just going about my normal routine when all of a sudden I found myself singing. Out loud. My desire to sing didn't discriminate. I found myself singing quietly along to background music (nerd alert!) while waiting for a business meeting to begin, I didn't stop once the meeting started; I simply dropped it down a notch. I pitty poor Mike sitting next to me. I apologized, then kept singing.

I found myself singing at the top of my lungs in the car. It physically feels so good to sing full blast, doesn't it? It wakes up your entire body with a rhythmic energy that can instantly change your mood. Who can resist the temptation? You know you do it. Don't deny it. And you like it too.

I found myself singing along to a song playing in a department store. It was a Culture Club song. It was then that I realized something strange was going on. Why would I find it normal to sing along with Boy George while browsing through assorted merchandise and not expect others to look at me suspiciously? Why would I find it okay to shop in a store that allows this music to play in the background? That's when it hit me: I sing when I am happy. I can't seem to stop. I'm even singing now (though I've progressed to U2).

While I am enjoying the melodic happiness in my life at the moment, I am wondering when that mood will change. I'm not a pessimist; far from it in fact. I have come to understand the mood swings and the cycles of emotion associated with both treatment and recovery. As I explained to my doctor at my last check up, the mood swings have been challenging as well as the physical changes. She explained that my hormones are raging back after chemo and my body has been through a lot and is trying to make the adjustment.

I am not sure if she realized what an understatement that might be. I've had the return of the menstrual cycle with all the physical discomfort and emotional upheaval of a tornado spinning inside of me. Of course at first I thought this was a good sign, but apparently my hormones can rage back yet not be strong enough for me to be fertile, rendering the monthly struggle useless. Being that I'm such a results oriented person, I find this particularly annoying. Much to my dismay, it surfaces monthly with an eerie regularity.

Let's not forget the tears. They come and go. Unexpectedly. I can go from zero to tears without notice. I found myself in the movie theatre sobbing (nearly uncontrollably) to a preview. A preview. Granted it was for the movie Rent (a modern version of La Boheme) which is all about life and death and coming to terms with both, but it was still a preview. Sure, I can justify the emotional song lyrics and the poingancy of the storyline, but it. was. a. PREVIEW.

It's quite a ride you know. The cycles, the moods, the uncertainty, the physical changes, the endless waiting for reconstruction. . . As the true optimist that I am, at least I realize that I am adjusting and recovering and living each day. I may get cramps and hot flashes and mood swings at times, but the pendulum swings both ways giving me timeless days of singing and joy.

"After the rain has fallen
After the tears have washed your eyes
You'll find that I've taken nothing, that
Love can't replace in the blink of an eye
After the thunder's spoken, and
After the lightening bolt's been hurled
After the dream is broken, there'll
Still be love in the world"
--Sting, After the Rain has Fallen

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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    "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12