Monday, July 24, 2006
Hot, Hot, Hot

Even in an air conditioned building I am wilting. That is nearly 43 C. Yikes.

I heard someone say it was hot as hell. Well, now, if that wasn't enough to scare me. I better make amends quickly because there is no way I can spend all of eternity in heat like this.

Hope you have found a way to keep cool today and aren't plagued with hot flashes and this unbearable heat.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
5 chimed in

Sunday, July 23, 2006
Lights, Cancer, Action
Many of us in the blogosphere have captured our breast cancer journeys in words, but imagine if a documentary was made of your experience. The Breast Cancer Diaries had its world premiere last month at the SilverDocs AFI Film Festival in Washington, D.C. According to producer and breast cancer survivor, Ann Murray Paige, whose experience is documented in the film, “Our hope is to give hope to the people who surround those diagnosed with breast cancer: to offer them insights on how to help, how to be a friend, and what it's 'like' to have cancer at a young age, with so much to live for."

I’m not sure why, but I have requested a DVD and one day when I feel the desire I know it will be a cathartic experience to view it. However, more importantly, when another friend asks me what he or she can do for a friend or family member just diagnosed with breast cancer (because it happens more often than I ever imagined it would), I will loan out this documentary so that my friend can see what is in store and determine how best to be part of the healing journey.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
1 chimed in

Saturday, July 22, 2006
Like Mother, Like Daughter
For the past few weeks I have had the pleasure of staying with my mom while her caretaker (one of my sisters) was away. I look forward to this time each year because I enjoy the time I spend with my mom. I mentioned in the past that mom’s health was already fragile before she was diagnosed with an untreatable, yet slow growing, adenocarcinoma in her sinus. Prior to diagnosis, she had ongoing nose bleeds that we and her physicians felt were a side effect of blood thinning medication; however, with her various meds stopped, she continued to have nose bleeds that couldn’t seem to be cauterized. Finally, another trip to an ENT specialist led to a very painful biopsy that determined it was indeed cancer.

My mom took the news like a champ, but we’ve all shed some tears and have fear of what this thing inside of her will do next. As it grows, how will it manifest itself? The doctors, in fact a panel of five specialists, have informed us that the treatment is indeed worse than the disease. But somehow it all seems like a waiting game and I hate it. I wish we didn’t know it was there. I wish that each day when her nose inevitably bleeds, that she wasn’t reminded of what lurks beneath.

One day she had some packing in her nose to stop the bleeding and I had wheeled her in front of her sink to wash her hands. I had commented on how pretty her hair looked that day (thankfully we are late “grayers” in my family and her silvery hair color is just beautiful, especially for a woman of 83 years) and noticed that she didn’t say anything and tried to hurry with her task at hand. I again commented and asked her to look so she could see how lovely it looked. I watched her quickly glance in the mirror, cautious to avoid looking at her nose or the visible packing, and softly thanked me and then went about turning to grab the towel and going about her business.

That’s when it hit me. I am in so many ways like my mother and I have always been proud of that because she is such an amazing and strong woman. This was different. Perhaps this time, she was like me. When I step out of the shower or change my clothes, I am always cautious to avoid the mirror and looking at my breasts and the long red scars that cross them. Sure I look at them in clothing or in different bras, but since the first day after surgery, I have not looked at them even if I was standing nude in front of the mirror. And even though I have more than accepted my fate, I dislike being so visibly reminded. And perhaps so it is with my mother. Who needs to be reminded of cancer and all it is capable of destroying within you?
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
2 chimed in

Thursday, July 20, 2006
Touching, Funny, Honest

Humor makes even the most difficult situations seem bearable. Miriam Engelberg channels her funny bone in this insightful illustrated book titled, Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person. She expresses through comic strips what many of us have expressed about our cancer experiences, but with her own wit and style. In one of the first comic strips people ask her which side has the cancer. I remember hearing that myself and wondering why people would ask such a question. And it reminded me of a certain conversation I had with a certain police officer about a certain seat belt that certainly wasn’t fastened when I was recovering from surgery. You know the rule: Click it or Ticket . . . or cry your way out of it in embarrassment of being forced to explain it and having the officer (with whom you have to socialize at employee Christmas luncheons and summer picnics) ask which side (as though it made a difference) and other details even though you said, “just give me the ticket.” The smile this book brings to you will make it worth the read.

Hope you find the humor in many things today.

P.S. If you like this book, you may also want to check out Mom's Cancer by Brian Fies.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
5 chimed in

Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Return of the Repressed
Something sent me on a blog break and I’m not sure what it was. It could be that rather than documenting my life and my feelings, I’ve just been allowing myself to live in the moment. Hmmm. That sounds pretty emotionally healthy for someone who frequently feels the emotional pendulum never stops swinging. The truth is, I have been busy. Busy keeping myself busy. Busy with doggies and mommies and work, oh my. But fear not for me as catch up time has arrived. My calendar kicks into high gear around March and stays at top speed until sometime around mid-July. Then I have a breather for a couple of months where I can unpack those last few boxes and get all that nasty paperwork caught up and spend time with people I have not been able to see in awhile. Somewhere in there I should have listed having some fun. Of course, the fact that I omitted that tidbit concerns me that I am returning to my workaholic tendencies, but I digress.

Something has me in a bit of a spin today. I’m not sure if it is this icky sticky humid hot weather, the constant barrage of news of violence and devastation all over the world, or the news that Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra have parted company (but they seemed so in love on their made for TV wedding). In reality (which I frequently try to avoid), I spend nearly all of my free time with my doggies. My puppy has topped the scales at 6.1 pounds (2.8 kilos of puppy for my international friends). If my puppy were crack, he’d have a street value of nearly $4 million dollars. To me he is worth much more. He and his momma have wiggled their way into my heart faster than I knew possible. And even when I get a visit from the poo fairy in the middle of the night and I awake frustrated that we are not completely housebroken yet, I simply remember that I psychically opted for the stainguard/scotchguard option when I had the carpets cleaned pre-puppy (life can really be that simple if I allow it).

Sometimes when I come home and my puppy jumps to greet me with snuggles and kisses, I feel a little like the Grinch at the moment his heart grew three sizes. I have so much love for these doggies. It is somewhat bittersweet though. It’s a manifestation of the abundance of love and nurturing inside of me that has been just waiting to come out. It confirms for me that I would have indeed been a great mom if having children were still an option; however, it also proves to me that I can love any baby as if it were my own, even if it is a puppy.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
1 chimed in

Monday, July 03, 2006
Independence Day
Two years ago I was bravely trying to keep my cancer diagnosis under wraps while I tended to the last minute details for 4th of July festivities in my community. Few people knew my secret as I lined up parade participants, greeted grand marshals, and spoke joyously to the press about freedom, patriotism, and family celebrations. My family, with heavy hearts, waited for me to return home after a morning of work that in the past has felt more like play. My nephew, Chris, and his wife Theresa, sweetly sat curbside with a bouquet of spider mums resembling fireworks, patiently waiting for me without ever once saying the word “cancer.” Although, the weight of what lie ahead seemed greater than the military tank lining up for the parade, any acknowledgement of it and I would have crumbled right there, in the middle of the street, on Independence Day, while the bands played on and children marched by, filmed for posterity by local television.

Few knew my secret that day. A lot has changed in two years. One thing that has not changed is that my community throws one of the best hometown 4th of July celebrations in the nation. Even though I seem to connect the feelings that resonate so strongly from events in 2004 with 4th of July events, I know that each year moving forward is a good year. Each year is a chance to try to make meaning of all this, my life, its purpose. Each year is an opportunity to see people smile, hear their laughter, and watch fireworks light up the sky.
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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