Monday, August 28, 2006
Pomp and Circumstance
While many are contemplating going back to school, I have just graduated. No longer am I required to make a pilgramage to to oncologisit every three months. I have graduated to six month appointments. Apparently, I am holding steady-ish on the tumor markers and all is good. Still no sign of cancer.

I am having some quality of life issues that require follow-up. One is that I am trying to adjust to Tamoxifen, but having mixed results. At times I feel good, other times I feel like I cannot tolerate one more leg cramp (today, for example it is the latter). I continue to have issues with ovulation and extreme pain. The first step is to follow up with a gynecologist (oh goodie!) and then determine how much I want my ovaries to function. I have lots of decisions to make and several appointments to schedule (such joy!).

In the end it doesn't really matter. I function just fine and can handle what I have going on now. What matters most is that I am still cancer free.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
7 chimed in

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
What I Won't Do for Love (or, The Poo Detective)
I have learned that my relationship with my dogs is much like my real life relationships. For example, my puppy, appropriately named Romeo, wakes up all cuddly and snuggly in the morning. Typical guy, no? And within the span of a few minutes they can go from loving on you to peeing your foot. It is that simple. Even though they have been one expensive lesson after another, the most recent one taught me the biggest lesson.

For the past two years I have worn a hearing aid to compensate for moderate hearing loss in one ear. Yes, just one more thing I fall into the category of "too young to have." There is an operation that can fix it, but only temporarily, so the doctor suggested I wait until it is more severe before considering it. Anyway, I have a system of placing my hearing aid in one of two places when I take it off in the evening. No exceptions. Otherwise I would lose it or forget it the next morning.

Yes astute readers, you see where I am going with this, don't you?

So one day I can't find my hearing aid and after searching for quite sometime, decided it was better to get to work on time and half-deaf rather than late and fully hearing. On the way to work I surmise that I must have started to doze off while watching TV and took the hearing aid off and put it in my pocket. I quickly called my sister and asked her to check my hamper when she went over to my house at lunch to let the dogs out for awhile (Great sister, isn't she? Not only does she let my dogs out, she also is willing to go through my dirty clothes hamper). In return I received a photo sent to my cell phone of a small flesh-colored piece of plastic and a tiny gold hearing aid battery (she's also quite a detective). Hmmm. . .

Upon further detective work that I won't describe, we determined that indeed Romeo was the culprit. I considered the possibility of seeing if the fractured remains were still operational, but I was afraid I still wouldn’t be able to hear crap (ba-da-bum). Quite the expensive lesson. After ordering a new hearing aid ($1,000 later), I noticed that something was wrong with Romeo. He would wince when picked up and he wasn't his usual jumpy, hyper self. Oh no! Was it the hearing aid? Was it something else? Off to the vet for x-rays, treatment, prescriptions, etc.

Good news and bad news. One piece was still in there, but it looked as though it was safely moving through the system. He also injured his paw and/or neck likely while engaged in rough play with his momma, but no broken bones. So after fluids, pain injections, and anti-inflammatories, we returned home just in time for the remaining piece to safely leave his system (almost as quickly as the cash left my pocket).

As frustrating, maddening, and expensive as the whole process was, I could hardly wait to get home and play with him. I'm convinced it's my most abusive relationship to date. But who could resist this?
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
4 chimed in

Monday, August 21, 2006
Trying to Get my Fix
I’ve had a hard time posting lately. Sometimes I feel the need to get away from all things cancer. Of course this usually happens around check-up time, which, as I mentioned, had postponed (don’t worry, I had my labs done and face the music tomorrow). Sometimes I feel submersed in the cancer world, gasping for air. This has been one of those times.

The truth is that my diagnosis took me from being a casual supporter to being a passionate advocate for all things cancer-related. So when a friend is diagnosed with cancer, I’m there. When a co-worker finds a lump, she calls me for advice. I know how much that support means. I consider it an honor. But what happens when the friend has a terrible reaction to the chemo? Or that lump is diagnosed as cancer? Or when one of my friends in the Internet faces year three of chemo? Or year seven of chemo? Or worse yet. . .

If I haven’t introduced myself before, let me make this clear. My name is Jeannette and I am a fixer. (This is where you all shout in unison, Hi Jeannette! Welcome!) The fixer in me gets taken to task with cancer. I have never felt so powerless in any other aspect of my life. I can’t take away the nausea, the fear, or the stubborn metastasized cells that survive no matter the flood of chemotherapy. I can’t fix cancer. As hard as I try, I can only share my chemo secrets, I can only research new treatments, I can only offer my shoulder. I simply can’t fix cancer or my friends. It’s a bitch, isn’t it?

It’s one thing to offer the high five to a survivor and build uplifting Relay for Life-type events. I feel strong and it even almost makes me feel a little bit victorious. When I come face to face with reality of cancer, such as the struggle of chemo, the fatal side effects of treatment, the recurrences . . . I am reminded in a very real and tangible way of the stark and dark reality that exists.

So while I search for my “fix,” what else can I do but take the occasional break, postpone the quarterly re-check, and find as many victorious moments as possible to fill the days.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
2 chimed in

Thursday, August 03, 2006
Double Digits
Lucky for us the searing has heat has temporarily subsided and today we enjoyed 72 F weather. There is no place like home . . . when the weather is bearable. Of course, I'll talk about anything to avoid the subject of my next check up. It is a two year check up and if all is well I get to transition to six-month check ups after this one. I have no reason to worry. Everything is fine.

Then why is it that I already canceled my appointment and put it off one more week? I know, I know. I gave myself one more week of worry. Two years just seems so, so, I don't know, significant for whatever reason. I would rather not thinka about tumor markers and dates and exams if I don't need to. I want it to be over and it seems there is no "over."

On a brighter note, Carolyn at Brave as a Tiger, Strong as an Ox just got her new boobies or "noobies." Be sure and congratulate her. It isn't everyday a girl gets to go through puberty all over again (in like eleven hours).

While we are being Internet sociable, stop by and welcome Amanda back. She has not only started fresh in a new city, but also a new blog.

And one more. Stop by and share the love with Sandee. No particular reason today, but who couldn't use some love? Besides, I'm sure she could use a pick me up. We all could, right?
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
4 chimed in

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Going Home
A friend of mine shared with me that her mom, "D", has stopped her chemotherapy because her liver was beginning to shut down. Her mom has been on chemo for the last several years straight and has been such a strong warrior. She's home surrounded by her family and time is winding down. "D" has always collected angels and now she will get to collect her very own wings. Please keep her and the entire family in your thoughts and prayers.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
0 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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