Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Dates, Time, Numbers
Girl enters the church of oncology, genuflects, kneels, and says a prayer.
She then proceeds to the confessional, opens the door, and enters.

"Bless me doctor for I have sinned. It has been one year since my last chemo and these are my sins:
--I have not always had faith that it worked 100 percent.
--I have not been grateful for the chemo as I worry and complain about lingering, bothersome side-effects.
--I have cursed it for the way it changed my perspective on how bad I have to feel before I realize I'm sick and need medical attention.
--I have resented it for what it has done to my ovaries.
For these and all the chemo sins of my life, I ask forgiveness."

It seems as though the passage of time is marked by doctor's visits, lab draws, and anniversaries of doctor visits and treatment. In just two weeks it will be a year since my last chemo. At my most recent follow-up appointment I learned a few things. The numbness in my toes is permanent, butI can live with it. My ovaries are confused, but we'll see how they are in January. In the meantime, I've had a reprieve from the hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. I also found out that my tumor markers (CA27-29) are still within the normal range, though slightly elevated. Nothing to worry about this time. I go back in January for my fourth three-month follow-up (also known as the one-year check up). At that time we should have a better understanding on the state of my ovaries and start the five-year maintenance drug (we have been waiting until after surgery). And then it is a matter of waiting until the next lab draws, the next appointment, the next . . . or should I say, my penance.

I have no expectation of getting bad lab results on any of my blood tests. Honestly, I don't. Yet soon as I leave the lab, I do find the worry setting in and the sigh of relief when I get the results. Somewhere deep inside my subconscious I do fret and likely always will. This is the cycle that has become my life.

I have also come to realize how much the chemo impacted my life. It truly has changd my perspective on things. I developed the ability to physically "power through" the physical adversity. I find myself still doing that, not knowing if a cold has become bronchitis, not knowing if a twisted ankele is actually a fractured ankle. Somehow I turned off the discomfort/pain switch and I think I need to switch it back on. Perhaps I'll wait to unravel that mystery until after surgery (in less than a month, God willing).

Even still, complaints (and whining) and all, I am grateful that the chemo improved my odds of survival and tracked down any possible wayward cancer cells and destroyed them. I'm just repenting. Trying to cleanse myself of the experience and move forward in grace and healing (with my sarcasm still in tact).
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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