Breast Cancer Support Meeting Tonight
& Refreshments Will Be Served

Alysa Cummings
Last Modified: July 16, 2003

The drug rep pulls goodies
from a large shopping bag.
Struggles with a dull knife.
Cuts lengths of string
wrapped around
two white bakery boxes.

With a flourish, he lifts the lids,
opens twin treasure chests of sweets.
Reveals a fruit covered torte
draped in pineapple circles,
blood red strawberries and sliced bananas,
a cream filled cake
shiny with icing glaze.
And for the calorie counters,
a platter of ripe melon balls
ready to dive into lemon yogurt dip.

He works his buffet,
artfully arranges napkins, plates and forks-
a self-conscious host
fussing, folding, fidgeting,
anxious for his guests to arrive.

The first woman walks into the meeting room.
The drug rep jumps to attention.
Asks the obvious:
Are you a breast cancer survivor?

Before she can answer
floodgates open,
his questions spill out,
a torrent of medicalese:
Lymph nodes?
Adjuvant treatment?

She listens open-mouthed and mute.
Her brain spins with unspoken questions:
Is this how we sing Getting-to-Know-You in Cancerland?
Should I begin my organ recital right on cue?
Shall I unbutton my shirt?
Does he need a quick peek?
Are breast cancer battle scars my ticket to eat?

He stops.
So does her angry mind chatter.
They face each other
Count off a silent beat.
She needs to answer him
Nothing more than this:

I've been on every ride in the park

The ice in her voice,
her down turned mouth,
halt a conversation
that never had a chance to start.