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
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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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