In the Boob Lounge, no one dances alone.
Late October in southern New Hampshire is the time when Mother Nature throws her biggest rave of the year, a trance riot featuring the leaves at peak color. Somehow Her party planning committee comes up with a unique and different palate every year, never once phoning it in or repeating last year’s theme. And when you live in a state that is 89% covered by trees, this makes for a big deal. But what never changes is this: at least once during peak I’ll be out doing errands or walking the dogs or on my way to work, and the gorgeousness of it all will literally make me woozy. I’ve been known to ugly cry it’s so beautiful.
When they found a tumor in my boob on October 3, only fifteen months after my husband had passed away from gastric cancer, I spent the following few weeks in and out of a nauseating daze, but not because of anything sublime like the pageantry of Autumn’s march into winter. I was simply sick with fear. I assumed I was going to die.
I’d been in the midst of planning my fiftieth birthday party. I was even starting to get my mind around starting to date again, but the discovery of the tumor jolted me into a mosh pit of adrenaline-fueled stops and starts, lurching between the tests I needed to have and their results, meeting doctors and making phone calls, sending and answering endless emails, constantly researching my diagnosis through websites like breastcancer.org, and slamming my laptop shut when it got to be too much information to take in.
Somehow in the midst of all of that I was able to come up for air to celebrate my birthday at a beautiful gathering that thankfully didn’t feel like an anticipatory funeral.
By November all that was left to do was attend my second opinion appointment so I could make decisions about what treatment I would need and when it would begin. In those weeks before Thanksgiving, all the adrenalin and panic that had kept me going drained away, and I found myself doing a version of what most of us here have to do after the October leaves have dazzled us and dropped, loitering in random piles and thick banks all over the joint, transformed from the instruments of the highest of highs to a reminder of the biggest chore of the season.