Monday, July 23, 2007
Updo’s and Other Milestones
For the last two weeks I have worn my hair up. First time in three years. I know this must sound like mundane drivel for some (ok, nearly all of you), but for me it is significant. I have always had longer hair and being stripped to nothing was quite the change to say the least. Slowly but surely, the pieces fall back into place.

So the other day I had an unusual experience. I was wearing a t-shirt, sweats, and running shoes (très glam!) when I popped into my local California style fruit ‘n nut grocer. I had placed my sunglasses in the front of my shirt while I perused the produce. The produce man strikes up a conversation with me while I attempt to pick out the freshest artichokes without getting pinched by them. While chatting, I see perhaps the world’s most perfect fennel bulb and head over to scoop it up. The conversation continues as I load up my mostly organic haul. With my attention no longer distracted by vegetables and melons, I look at the man and notice that he is clearly checking out the cleavage. This is the first time in two and a half years I remember this happening or perhaps acknowledge that it is even possible that anyone might care to look.

And finally, after three years of blogging and more than 200,000 hits, of all the people who have stopped by and left a comment or sent me an email, I have never met anyone like Suzy who emailed me last evening. She bears the distinction of being the first person completely lacking in compassion and class to contact me. For the record, I don’t blog so that people will feel sorry for me. I started this blog much like many others who have faced a life threatening illness so that I could keep others updated and share my experience with the 200,000 other women who will be diagnosed each year. If my experience seems trivial to you, then don’t read it. Seems like a much simpler solution than expending so much negative energy spewing venom via email.

Now, I am going out to enjoy the summer rain which is only the second time in my life I remember a summer rain in Southern California. Although it is humid in our normally dry heat climate, the rain seems cleansing today. The sticky heat, the muted sunshine, and warm rain drops are a change from the routine. Change can do us all good. Even if it causes us to put our hair up.
Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
5 chimed in

Sunday, July 08, 2007
Results and Resolutions
I had been in a state of limbo with no news to share while I had tests, saw doctors, and awaited results. I can’t believe the number of emails and messages expressing concern. Thank you, thank you, thank you for caring!

Let me first begin by updating about the “mass.” Right now, no one seems to think it is cancer or anything to worry a bout at this time. I’ve had a CT scan, an MRI (the last one I am likely to have – ever), sixteen tubes of blood tests, the mother of all urinalysis, and an aborted biopsy (called off by the radiologist). Results? Hmm, all seems to be okay, but we’ll take some pictures in a few months and keep an eye on it. Who would have ever believed that a little 2mm stone would have led to an insurance referral nightmare, an argument with my doctor, me carrying around a jug of my own urine for twenty four hours, and a kidney specialist releasing me after telling me that there is no evidence I continue to produce kidney stones despite the ongoing unbearable, yet intermittent, pain in my kidney region.

This whole episode was eerily reminiscent of my original breast cancer diagnosis exactly three years earlier. I was busy, busy planning 4th of July patriotic celebrations while having a lumpectomy and then receiving an official diagnosis on July 1, 2004. Once again I found myself facing doctor appointments and tests and visits with specialists only this time to be given inconclusive, wait and see, results. I reacted the only way I knew how: I put it all aside and focused my energy on planning an amazing 4th of July parade (see my job description under “other duties as assigned”). The lesson I learned this time around, and on my third cancerversary, is that life is too short to still feel like a patient. Moving on is long overdue.

As I write this, someone whom I know and love is experiencing a recurrence with extensive metastases after three clean years. It is funny how we both thought we made it and were cancer free, free and clear. I guess there is no such thing as free and clear after cancer and no reason or logic for recurrences. It has made me think very hard about how I have lived the last three years. If it were me instead of my friend, how would I feel about the way I lived the last three years? I’ve said before that in some ways, cancer has made me both fearless and fearful, but which has prevailed?

Perhaps the fearful part has moved me to action to fight this dreaded disease. Fundraisers, walks, reaching out to others facing cancer, volunteering in various ways, and lobbying my political representatives to action are really the foundation of my armor. Somehow, in my own mind, the more of us that make it, the stronger our team becomes and the weaker the opponent appears, right? (Please tell me I am right, alright?)

It’s the fearless part that will likely get me into trouble. There is a part of me that doesn’t fear long term consequences any longer (which is probably a good change at times for conservative little ol’ me) and part of me that doesn’t stop until I get what I am seeking or reach whatever goal lies before me. While this may sound a little on the “fierce” side as my friend Tyra would say, it all takes incredible energy. Energy to fight the beast; energy to laugh in his face by carrying on in spite of him. And really, I don’t want to spend my time and energy reacting out of fear in any form. I’d rather spend my energy acting out of love rather than reacting out of fear.

So on this, my third cancerversary, my new goal has become pretty clear. It is time to move on rather than simply talk about moving on. It is time to stop being a patient (and learn patience!). I declare this the year of love with my goal simply to live and love with abandon. To give of myself freely out of love and not out of fear. To bask in the energy of the healing power of love.

Won’t you join me?

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Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
7 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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    "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12