Sunday, November 23, 2008
No Egrets
The last ten days or so have been a crazy whirlwind. It started with a visit to my oncologist to set a plan of action. You know the routine…surgery, chemo, radiation, blah, blah, blah… It wasn’t exactly the way I wanted to spend an afternoon, but I’d rather move things along and leave no stone unturned rather than postpone or delay this process. My sister came along with me for moral support (she won’t let me out of her sight or drive myself to any appointments…she’s the greatest).

As we were approaching my house I saw a very large white bird (I wanted to say huge or gigantic, but didn’t want to be too dramatic) fly right in front of my house. It literally made a path in front of my house, across the door, and then it swooped up to perch on the roof of the neighbor across the street where we quickly captured it on our cell phone cameras. It looked like an egret or perhaps a crane. Either one are completely out of place in my neighborhood as there are no lakes in the nearby vicinity. I have never seen such a thing and this bizarre appearance leads me to believe it is a sign of some sort. What message do egrets bring? Perhaps it is a crane which, incidentally, is a symbol of peace.

Three days later I had surgery while my sisters and several friends held vigil waited patiently held a party in the waiting room (a cast of characters the hospital has likely never experienced). Out of eleven nodes removed, three were cancerous and quite large. My underarm feels a lot emptier. I also had a port inserted for the chemo. Based on recent scans, it appears the cancer was contained to that area and this total removal gives me a great chance at beating this once again. The chemo and radiation will only improve those odds. I’m not looking forward to it, but I know I can do this and move forward, once again, cancer free.

This recurrence certainly has made me think about the treatment choices I made the first time around. I was very aggressive to give myself the best chances at survival. Even though the cancer was small, it was extensive invasive lobular carcinoma which gave me a high contralateral recurrence rate (recurrence in the unaffected breast). I had dense dose chemo and a bilateral mastectomy. It was supposed to make my recurrence probability about 4 percent. I made those choices for all the right reasons and none of those choices made this cancer return. All I can say is ….. no egrets.

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Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
10 chimed in

Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Just When I Thought it was Safe ...
When I started this blog in 2004, I was on a mission to educate myself, my family, and anyone who would listen (or read) about the challenges of a breast cancer diagnosis. In my heart I always believed it would be a triumphant story with a happy ending. Then when I was “done” with treatment and all things breast cancer, it would be time to end my blog and move on with my life.

Along the way I have learned there is no “done” when it comes to cancer. It is an ugly, dark rain cloud that follows you no matter how fast you try to run away. It lurks above casting a shadow of doubt and darkness. After four years as a survivor I learned the secret to moving on was not running from the clouds, but learning to dance in the rain. There is no escaping the cloud, but you can take the wisdom you have gained, let go of the doubt and darkness so you can embrace life by defiantly dancing in spite of the rain.

So I began to move forward toward the five-year goal of survivorship. I felt myself shedding the cocoon, my arms and legs unfurling, the dance beginning, and then at a regular check-up, we found a new lump. Quite a large lump. Today I found out it is indeed cancer. No matter how hard I try to keep dancing, my feet, as well as my heart, are heavy and my arms motionless. I know the music is there, but I can’t hear it. I feel only constant drops of rain hitting with such force it pits my skin.

With slow, burdensome steps, I will continue to dance. It’s a different rhythm, familiar yet unknown, and I trod along.

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Written by Jeannette Vagnozzi
12 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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