It was the day before the New Years. On vacation, I was staying in the guest room of a grey stonewall country cottage in the province of Toronto. Thinking back to the year, I was mostly well, subtle dissatisfactions, new friends, and the slow hum of time moving life along.
This cottage was modern in decor. The guest room was small. There’s a pull out couch, an elliptical machine, some books, framed pictures of our family friends, and a window from which heaps of snow weighed down the neighboring roof. The most scenic view was the fresh snow against the grey overcast of the morning. It was nestled between the tired branches of naked trees, their arms were crooked and dark.
That evening I was reading a book, an illustrated hardcover about health, the nutritional value of vegetables such as carrots and tomatoes. I was bored as I ran my hands across my chest, far away in a daydream. My breathing was rhythmic, exhale, a brief inhale, and then repeat. I could hear the laughter downstairs, my parents and our family friends taking their nightcaps.
And I then I felt it, a hard lump on top of my right breast. It was dense like cement. I pressed on it to make sure it wouldn’t disappear. My breath slowed and the snow fell to the ground.
I left the room. I had vertigo in the brown wood corridor, the space between the guest room and the bathroom where I stopped my mother. She aged in that moment, I needed to see a doctor at home. Probably a cyst, she said.
I laid on the couch and prayed. I thought of the word “irony” and how I could not carry the weight of cancer. I wasn’t even 30 years old. I thought of a book I read in college “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, and how there are moments where we become tethered to our fate, when the pain graduates from emotional to visceral. It permeated my bones, all else became superfluous.
It was that December evening in the stern winter and the reflection of the paling snow that the meatiness of my breast would change my being.