Tuesday, June 20, 2006
In the News . . .
New Breast Cancer Gene Raises Risk in Europeans

By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent

WASHINGTON, June 19 (Reuters) - Researchers have found another breast cancer gene that can greatly raise the risk of the disease in women of European heritage, according to a report published on Monday. They said the gene worked in tandem with the well-known BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes to raise the risk of breast cancer by as much as 80 percent. . . (read more)
This is the direction we need to be going. We need to do more research in connection between cancer and DNA. Did you read the story about the eleven Bradford cousins? They had their stomachs removed due to a CDH1 gene mutation that carries a stomach cancer risk of 70 - 80%.

Right now we are at a turning point. Scientists have been able to determine the link between certain genes and certain cnacers. The only option at this time is to consider prophylactic surgery making the offending body part disposable. There has to be a better quality of life for those of us born with a genetic mutation that was completely out of our control and not affected by lifestyle choices or environmental factors. The next step is to learn how to treat the gene and change those risks.

Imagine the possibilities if we put even half the cost of a war toward genetic cancer research. Where are our priorities? I hope you tell your congress members and senators where yours are. It may make all the difference.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
5 chimed in

Wednesday, June 14, 2006
On Reflecting and Cancerversaries
The two-year anniversary of my diagnosis is quickly approaching. I can recount with vivid clarity each moment in the doctor’s office as he gave me the news. I remember feeling as though I needed to hold it together as he spoke to me. I showed no emotion. When the conversation was over I proceeded to talk to the nurse as she prepared my referral. As the stack of information I would need mounted, I could sense her hesitancy as though she were cautiously waiting for the eruption of emotions that were mysteriously hidden below the surface. I thanked her, waived as I said good-bye to the other nurse and walked out the door. It hadn’t even closed before the first tear silently fell down my cheek.

From there the memories seem to get tossed into a whirlwind. I can recall bits of phone calls blending with face-to-face conversations that appear blurred in slow motion. There are snips and bits of memories of washing dishes and caring for the hematoma that had developed at the lumpectomy incision and lying down afraid to close my eyes. I felt nothing and I felt everything. It was painful and somber. Family and friends surrounded me yet I felt alone.

Magically the rush of complex emotions and uncertainty quickly transformed into the will to face cancer head on. Days became weeks and weeks became months of appointments, procedures, prescriptions, treatments, injections, fatigue, and side-effects. Without stopping I moved straight into surgery and then onto reconstruction. I have yet to raise my head and take a breath. I’m still in fight mode and I wonder if cancer will haunt me the rest of my life the way war does for a veteran. Even when life resembles what I once knew as normal, out of nowhere a flashback brings back the feeling of devastation known only by those who have experienced the battle.

Contrary to the darker feelings I have described, the last two years have not been spent dying. Though the doubt and desolation loomed always under the surface, most of my days have been filled living: enjoying time with family, laughing like school girls with my sister, feeling the infinite support of my friends and co-workers, and meeting dynamic and supportive people both in person and in the blog world. Connecting with others who understand the cancer experience has been priceless. It’s important and even cathartic to share our stories with one another.

And even though today I might complain from time to time about the side-effects of the tamoxifen or the residual issues that will likely surface from time to time, I am grateful for my life and the joys I have each day. Last year on my first cancerversary, I was a bit melancholy and reflective. This year, I feel empowered to move forward and let go of the illness baggage giving me greater ability to embrace life fully with untethered arms. Of course that doesn’t mean that cancer won’t be part of me as I move forward. It may follow along behind trying to catch me, but at least it no longer has a firm hold trying to drag me down.

That, my friends, is quite an anniversary present. Cheers.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
7 chimed in

Monday, June 12, 2006
Such a Big Shadow for Something so Small
It seems the leg cramps are not as uncommon as I thought and it may be possible that they might lessen and eventually go away according to the amazing women in a discussion group, known as Sisters in Survivorship (I think these women are amazing!). As one mentioned, she’s been having the leg cramps, but won’t let it her stop from training for her triathlon. Shame on me. I walked my dog around the park and I was complaining. Granted the puppy now runs at full speed (now nicknamed “Bullet”) and can be a challenge (or comedic) to keep up with him – all 4.3 pounds of him! The moral of the story is, I walk and it hurts; I don’t walk and it hurts. So I plan to walk and stop complaining.

I discussed it with my doctor and she wanted me to go off the tamoxifen for a couple of months to be sure it is the cause of the pain. I wasn’t sure what was worse: the thought of going back on tamoxifen and having to readjust to it all over again or suffer through the leg cramps until my body adjusts to it. I’ve opted to stay on it for at least six months and reassess at that time. For those of you playing along with the home version of this game, six months arrives on August 1st. You might want to set a reminder or note it in your palm pilot so you can be sure to come back for one heck of an exciting update at that time.

PS If you were diagnosed with breast cancer at age 40 or younger, I highly recommend you check out the Sisters in Survivorship discussion group. Highly addictive!
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
2 chimed in

Monday, June 05, 2006

My garden is blooming.

Romeo and Lady love to play in the garden.

I feel a bit better too (how could I not with all this beauty and life surrounding me?). Thanks for the comments and all the great email. The experience and encouragement from my friends in the computer make all the difference.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
3 chimed in

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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