“One day you’re up, the next you’re down,” the old song goes. Jessica Bowden of Windham recently discovered both can happen the very same day.

Last June, when she was shopping for her first home, Bowden was absolutely elated that the seller had accepted her offer. The 33-year-old would be renting no longer. But cloud nine was quickly hampered by a cold hard reality. That same day, Bowden discovered she had an aggressive form of breast cancer.

“(The news I was getting the house) gave me something to focus on,” she said. “It helped me not dwell on the fact that I had cancer.”

Her family was floored to learn someone so young and starting out in life would be stricken with cancer. Bowden needed to start treatment right away. Working as a medical receptionist, she went ahead and acquired the home and took things one day at a time. But the disease soon demanded precedence; she would need some help juggling things. Work had to be put off. It’s not clear today if she still has a job to return to.

Luckily, Jessica grew up in an area with significant support groups. Community action comes naturally to places like Windham and Raymond. Friends of the family suggested if things got tight, they should do a fundraiser.

On Sunday, a benefit filled with fun for all ages was held at Roscoe’s Rockin’ Buffet on Route 302 in Raymond, which was by all accounts a raging success. Roscoe and Jessica both went to Windham High School. The restaurant was only too happy to offer its space and contribute a portion of the day’s proceeds to the cause.

A few thousand dollars came in, and folks walked away with door prizes. Thanks to entertainment by local line-dance duo Flamin’ Raymin’ and Sizzlin’ Suzzin’, people learned the “Pirate Macarena” and strutted their stuff to “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” while kids munched on free popcorn and got busy face-painting. And a man who won the $250 raffle decided to do a generous deed by donating it to Jessica’s cause.

“We had over 100 people,” said Roscoe Grant, restaurant proprietor. “A lot of support turned out.”

“It blew me away – I honestly didn’t know a lot of them,” Bowden said. “People came over to donate who heard and just happened to be eating there. It was a huge help.”

No doubt the money will be quickly appropriated to the many bills that have piled up since Bowden stopped working. With chemotherapy completed, she goes in for surgery on Friday. Her doctors discovered she has a gene that makes a cancer recurrence very likely – a gamble she’s not willing to take.

“People have come together in amazing ways,” said, Susan Hall, Bowden’s mother, the Sizzlin’ Susan of the two-part act. “It’s been overwhelming.”

When Hope Gardens, a Windham community group, heard of Bowden’s plight, its members offered to paint the inside of her new home.

“In the darkness of this whole ordeal, there have been so many blessings,” Hall said. “People truly have come together to help.”

Don Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Raymond. He can be reached at: [email protected]