Thursday, June 30, 2011


It's almost time for my bilateral mastectomy. (It's not often a girl gets to say that.) So how the heck am I supposed to stop my mind from going there (wherever "there" is)? And how do I keep calm when I know in a matter of hours my boobs will be removed, along with the cancer that resides in the right one?

I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but if you're like me, you go to a Jay Leno taping. 'Cause there's nothing quite like the healing power of humor.

My sister got Leno tickets several months ago — way before she knew I had cancer. The fact that the show date happens to fall 14 hours before my surgery is, as you can imagine, initially very stress inducing. How can I sit still in a chilly television studio with several hundred strangers and watch Jay Leno make jokes the night before I'm going under the knife? Shouldn't I be at home resting or worrying or not eating or drinking or something?

Wait a minute. This may actually be a brilliant idea. I mean, it's not like I'm going to get a good night's sleep anyway; I'll be wired for sound and the Zzzz's will be fleeting. Plus, I have to be at the hospital really early — 5AM. (That means getting up at 4AM.) There's no reason I shouldn't at least try to forget my troubles, right? I'll have plenty of time post-surgery to lay in bed and worry.

So off to the taping I go (sister and mother in tow).

We spend all afternoon (and part of the early evening) at NBC Studios. We actively participate in a pre-show crowd warmup. I even toy with the idea of telling the studio audience that I'm about to have a double mastectomy and this is the last outing my real boobs will ever have. But I chicken out and settle for a CD of that night's musical guest instead. (Turns out cheering really loudly wins you free stuff.)

Before the actual taping begins, Leno walks out to greet us in his street garb — jeans and a T-Shirt. He's kind and friendly and familiar. When he reemerges in a suit and tie, the crowd goes crazy, on cue. Jesse Eisenberg is fresh off his Oscar nomination for The Social Network, so it's cool to see him in person (even though he's a little — OK, a lot — nervous). My mom, my sister and I have a blast. We laugh a ton. It turns out to be the perfect way to while away the worry hours.

For half a day, not only do I forget about my surgery, but I actually forget I have cancer. 

And that, my friends, is the healing power of comedy.

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