I have always loved the fall season, my favorite time of year. It traditionally signifies the close of a fun-filled summer, cooling weather, and upcoming family holiday celebrations.
But this year it also means revisiting what happened to me last fall, whether I want to or not. I didn’t love fall last year. And in fact, it may have even changed my love of fall forever.
Last year I had just returned from a delightful month’s stay during August in England and Portugal. I had my annual mammogram on September 19, something I remember reflecting upon as my 25th visit since I dutifully began getting mammograms as a forty-year-old.
A phone call from my doctor indicated there was something amiss and I needed some follow-up scans. I had been through this before so my engine light did not immediately kick on. Another imaging appointment occurred on September 23, another doctor phone call followed. Then my engine light did flash on with the news of a necessary biopsy, although that also had happened twice before in the past. On September 30th, I had a CT-guided needle biopsy and then headed to Cambria for our usual October couple of weeks. It is in Cambria that I had to wait several days for the results of the biopsy and where I received the confirmation of a breast cancer diagnosis on October 7.
Fall feels very different this year. It has never been marked by trepidation before.
I crawled out of a long dark tunnel that lasted eight months at the end of May when my chemo and radiation treatments were finally over, including the “lung cancer scare” at the last moment which, for a week, held the terror that maybe another nightmare was going to start before I even got to the end of the first one. Pneumonia then became my new favorite disease.
June and July were jubilant celebrations of light as I was finally giddily free from the tethers of cancer treatment schedules and back in the swing of life as I had once joyfully known it. August was filled with a return trip to England and a week in southern Spain after the despondence of cancelling last December’s England visit. Three wonderful months of living again, with a busy travel schedule still ahead to Santa Rosa, Cambria, Baja, and then back to England for November, December, and a new grandberry.
But first I have to get through the dreaded tests that will now forever mark September and fall for me. And with triple negative breast cancer, a particularly aggressive cancer with a greater likelihood of recurring within the first five years, it is a daunting obstacle to anticipate.
I cannot change the circumstances nor will I allow them to overwhelm me. And I am still profoundly grateful for my incredible medical outcome.
But fall feels very different to me this year. It has been a transformative trip around the sun.