Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Chestnut Trees and Cycles of Life
Many years ago when my family first moved to California, one of our relatives mailed my father a chestnut. While in transit, the chestnut sprouted. Never one to waste a thing, my father planted the little sprout in the front yard. The dry, hot California climate may not have been the best home for a chestnut tree; however, it's growth over the years has been a symbol of its indomitable spirit as well as a symbol of family history. We kept a piece of tradition and home with us as we emigrated to the US and eventually came to California. For me, a California native, it has been a link to family history that extended generations and across continents.

We have since enjoyed many picnics, celebrations, and bocce tournaments in the shade of this tree. With the many memories and emotions attached to the chestnut tree, imagine our sadness when a disease almost killed this tree a few years ago. We brought in the experts who removed the diseased portions and saved the tree. It's years may be numbered, but it still has years of life left.

Every time see this tree it forces me to recall the cycle of life. Even something that stands with such grandeur and strength must succumb to the cycle of life and give way to new life. Though while it is here it serves its purpose providing shade, security, and shelter in addition to its harvest. Eventually, it seems the disease will return, spread, and the tree will be gone.

I can't express how clearly I relate to this tree in regard to my own life cycle. When you think about it, we are the same really. All living things are part of a cycle of life and all that it implies. In recent weeks I have experienced the loss of three people to cancer, young and old alike. It seems the daily news headlines rarely skip a day without mentioning another cancer loss. I have begun to believe that perhaps cancer is a natural part of this process. Perhaps cancer was intended to be the end of the life cycle.

For centuries we've sought the Fountain of Youth, so it is no surprise we search even harder for a cure for cancer. Sometimes I have to wonder if by not allowing cancer to end my life cycle, by cheating death, is there some purpose to my days and by not tuning in to that purpose am I selfishly consuming this time? I feel like I am either about to discover or completely miss the grand message of enlightenment from my cancer experience.
For the last three years I have been determined to convince the world (and thus myself) that cancer doesn't change us. This is not true. Every experience we have changes us in some way and while I feel my life is very different now internally, I feel the the external is very much the same. The person you see in the community, my role in my family, my job, everyhting is the same. I am starting to feel as though the conflict is growing too great between the internal and the external and something is about to change. All I can hope for is that the change brings a goodness and peace and hope that carries me through the turbulence of change.

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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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