One lump or two? Ma'am...your coffee? One lump or two? Such an innocent question uttered hundreds of times in tea rooms, coffee houses, restaurants, airplanes.
Today, those words had the power to bring her to her knees. No amount of chamomile or honey capable of soothing her pain. She was drowning in a sea of sorrow, fearful of what tomorrow would bring.
How could she face this new reflection, scarred, disfigured? What would she see reflecting in his eyes? He said he would always love her, no matter what. He said she would always be beautiful to him, but this...this isn't what crosses your mind, vowing in sickness and health.
Each day she'll carry on, with a stiff upper lip and pink ribbons in her hair , stuffing the prosthetic into her bra, no longer adorned with sheer lace. She'll march with an army of women.
She's grateful to be among the living, a survivor as she's now known. But she misses her curves, even if sometimes they sagged. She misses the tingling of her nipples when her husband held her in his arms. She misses feeling like a woman. She misses feeling whole.
Ma'am? One lump or two? She replied, Oh, No Thank You. No lumps for me.
Shawn Aveningo is the author of four poetry collections, her latest a chapbook chronicling her journey of donating a kidney to her father after he lost his second kidney to cancer. This poem, "Pink Ribbons," was inspired by the many women whom she's known who have battled and won the fight against breast cancer. If you would like more information about her poetry or would like to purchase one of her books, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.