Saturday, November 03, 2007
Please Fasten Your Seat Belts and Keep Your Arms and Legs Inside the Ride at all Times
For the past week I have been spending nights at the hospital with my mom. She was admitted to ICU with difficulty breathing. I have watched her sleep peacefully with what appears to be an uncomfortable and annoying breathing apparatus while her body desperately tries to heal itself. My mom is an amazingly strong and vital woman and spending time with her is always filled with blessings, no matter the circumstances. She is beginning to rebound and you can see the glimmer of her old self returning through the tubes and wires monitoring her every breath, every heart beat.

Sitting up every night I have had plenty of time to think about what it means to have lived a full life. While I can look at my mom and know what an impact she has had on the world and the many lives she has touched, it has made me think about my own life in the same regard. While I can say confidently that I am proud of the woman I am and am becoming, especially when I can see my mother's traits in my actions, I know I still have much room for growth. Of course the past few years tinged by cancer have weighed heavily on my personal development, both good and bad. After emerging from the haze of chemotherapy and the physical challenge of multiple surgeries, I made a commitment to live life fully and passionately. Sadly, I think I have failed.

I remember believing during treatment that if I kept working and kept my normal routine, no matter what I looked like temporarily, cancer was not in control. I kept my work schedule in tact and kept up with my teaching schedule throughout everything. As the months since treatment continue to grow with gathering speed, I continue to maintain everything . . . and then some . . . more classes, more activities, more conferences, more committees. . . more responsibilities to everyone outside of myself. I somehow confused living passionately with being busy. Instead of the joy of living life fully propelling me forward and manifesting itself in my actions, I feel the joy diminishing with each mounting responsibility and each moment given away under the guise of living passionately.

I have grown to understand my cancer diagnosis as a pivotal time in my life. Certainly this is understandable as cancer does bring a new reality into one’s life. I find myself judging and weighing each action I make post cancer on some grand scale in comparison to the pre-cancer person. This is exactly the person I did not want to become. I did not want cancer to be the enlightenment period of my life. I want my entire life to be my enlightenment period. I want to always be growing and evolving throughout my life and not only the period where I passed through the cancer crucible, judging everything on some pre or post basis.

Once again I find myself on the precipice of great change. This time, however, the change will be two-fold. First, as much as I don’t want to face it, my family is changing. My mother is very strong and will recover and come home from the hospital once again. But the future and what it inevitably holds, is much closer than any of us want to believe. Secondly, internal change for me must be part of the equation. This must be the time that I learn what it means to live life passionately and what it takes to find that inner joy that will resound in my actions. I have to learn the difference between being busy and being present in the moment, the difference between doing several things and embracing the things I am doing.

Somehow I think it is going to be a bumpy ride.

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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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