The first was for my staff. I'm the editor-in-chief of Food & Wine magazine, and I wanted to make it clear that this cancer business was going to be okay for them. I invited everyone to our wine room, under the guise of a tasting. They arrived to find bottles of pink Champagne and trays of pink-frosted cupcakes. Before I stood to speak, my heart was pounding. Could I really do this? I raised my glass and said something like "I think you all know it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I certainly do: I've been diagnosed with breast cancer." People looked surprised, confused, uncomfortable, sad…. But I didn't stop talking, in my pathologically positive way, until the mood lightened.
The second party was the brainchild of my oncology nurse, Matt, who asked if I was going to mark the midpoint of my four months of chemotherapy. I loved the idea: It would give me something to look forward to, which is important when you're feeling alternately nauseated, exhausted, anxious, preoccupied, and occasionally absolutely normal. I was sick of thinking about cancer. I'd be sitting in the subway, wondering who else had the disease. I'd scan hairlines for bad wigs. I'd worry about getting a cold, which could force me to miss my treatment. Once I decided to have a party, though, I could stop obsessing about cancer and start focusing on guest lists, decorations, food.