Friday, December 30, 2005
Welcoming the Stillness
Today I was asked if I'd do it all over again. The question was in reference to the bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. While the conversation went on with me justifying my choices, my mind wandered off to view from a distance the past two years.

2004 will always be the year I found out I had breast cancer. I will not remember 2004 as the year Wangari Maathai of Kenya was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, or Spain was rocked by a terrorist attack, or Paul Hamm found himself in the middle of an Olympic gold medal controversy in Greece, or Martha Stewart was sentenced to prison, or the Boston Red Sox finally became world champs, or even the year that Ashlee Simpson launched her Autobiography. It will remain simply the year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was in fact a year of deconstructing, if you will. A year of destroying cancer and salvaging a life.

2005 has been different. In many ways, especially physically, it has been a year of reconstructing. A year of reconstructing my body and my life as a person who has battled cancer. Reconstructing my body has been easier than reconstructing my psyche. Though I still have physical details to finish which seem to go on ad nauseum, at least there is a check list to complete in order to be declared as physically whole as they can make me. There will be a time when Dr. Fabulous proclaims me complete from a plastic surgery perspective. I'm still looking for the check list to complete my mental health wholeness. Even at times when I feel my strongest, the reality-plagued thoughts rear their ugliness and leave me feeling broken in a way that seems can never be made whole again. Then I take a breath and move forward. Somehow.

Unlike 2004, a year focused on battling cancer, 2005 has allowed me to appreciate the world that exists beyond myself and appreciate a broader existence. Even with the chaos of my life, 2005 will not simply be remembered as my year of reconstructing. I will also remember it as the year the love of my life, Bono, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, the nation demonstrated its compassion and generosity in the wake of hurricanes Katrina et al, a new Pope was chosen, a new Tour de France record was established by Lance Armstrong, a new Supreme Court Justice was appointed, and after a little-noticed break, the National Hockey League returned. All of these portend hope and new beginnings and propel me into 2006 with new goals and desires.

I hereby declare 2006 as the year of stillness. In 2006 there will be no deconstructing, reconstructing, or forced growth thrust upon me. I have been so focused on battling cancer, looking for signs of recurrence, and rebuilding my body that life has been happening around me. I plan to be still, embrace each moment, and make each one count. I want to feel what is all around me, experience the moment, and savor the journey. I can't do that without being still and present.

I welcome the stillness in 2006 and, with it, I welcome life. Care to join 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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    "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12