Friday, October 14, 2005
Gratitude
Who knew that new responsibilities at work, a new school term, a mom having surgery, and a badly sprained (or slightly fractured) ankle would cause me to take my longest blog break of record. If that is the combination that silences me, then a lot of people in my life just learned a magic combination.

I realized something today. I have often made reference to my small town life. Oh sure, I am close to the very metropolitan Los Angeles, spend plenty of time in the Rose Parade's own Pasadena, but I live in a rather small town. I went to college here. And grad school. I also work for said same small town. Oh yes, I am also an adjunct professor at the same small university located in the same small town. No, this is not a twisted version of the Children of the Corn. I am not trapped by some cult in a Nebraska cornfield (though would that be more believable?).

I like it here. I am lucky that the place where I make a living is also where I make a life. I like being part of the community. I don't know if other people really feel like they belong in their communities or if they feel more like they own a house there. It is a completely different feeling. It's a feeling that overwhelms you when after a breast cancer diagnosis, a community that you serve, suddenly serves you.

I have been very blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful friends. Friends that drag their spouses out for a very long night of inside jokes they may not find funny and a lovely dinner that arrives cold. Friends that leave their son's soccer game and race through Los Angeles freeways just to show their support. Friends that give up tickets to a Los Angeles Clippers game just to be with you (well, maybe that isn't so much of a sacrifice). Friends that hug you, encourage you, never forget your birthday, and are amazing all the time, long before I became their friend with the breast cancer.

I have been blessed with a very supportive family. My mother, who is miserably suffering from surgery last Wednesday and first asks me how I'm feeling when I see her, instilled in us the virtues of being of service to others. It is evident when you look at how my wonderfully thoughtful sisters lead their lives and when you see the values that my nephews embrace. It is who we are because of the example we have in my mother.

I have been blessed with a co-survivor for whom there are no words to describe her support. Without even asking, my sister is by my side through everything asking nothing in return. Joyce's support reminds me of the poem by 12th Century Persian poet Hafiz,
Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe Me."

Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.

I was reminded today that having all of this makes me rich beyond all worldly treasure. That even though I have struggled through treatment and surgery and face life with cancer on a daily basis, I am rich. That even though I am frustrated with waiting for my next surgery (in a month, God willing), I have everything I need right now. Nothing else matters. The life I have right now, at this moment, is all I need.
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