Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"A scar means, I survived."

You all know I have a love/hate relationship with my scars.

I went from having no visible scars to BAM---"What happened to you?!" type of scars in less than 2 months. I love the scars because they are what keeps me healthy. They are my badges of honor, the visible evidence of how serious (and ugly) melanoma is. (If that does not keep you out of the tanning bed, please do not be offended when I consider you to be an idiot.)  But c'mon, I am a 24 year old female who appreciates feeling attractive. Do you blame me for having a minor issue with these babies?

At the benefit this weekend I met a lovely lady who is a fellow melanoma survivor. She found her way to my blog and left this passage on one of the posts about my scars.

"On the girl's brown legs there were many small white scars. I was thinking, Do those scars cover the whole of you, like the stars and the moons on your dress? I thought that would be pretty too, and I ask you right here please to agree with me that a scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.

-from Little Bee by Chris Cleave

Thanks to you, Andrea, I will never think of my scars in a negative way again.

Unless you have been in this situation, I do not think you understand how difficult it is to openly accept your scars. It is easy to sit back and say "love them! They are keeping you alive." But until you are faced with the situation of going out in public and being openly stared at, please try to be patient. Think about chemo patients. They can't exactly hide their bald heads. Do you blame them for feeling sad when they look in the mirror? Wouldn't you? They did not choose to be all Natalie Portman... Yes, the reason their head is bald is a good one...It means they are hopefully on the road to recovery, but it does not mean that we will all love our new look. It makes being "normal" a little more difficult.

For months people have been lecturing me about why I should embrace my scars, why I should feel proud to have them, and I am. I made the decision cut my hair without fear of people staring at my neck. I wear shirts that show my shoulders and the big gash that streches from my spine almost to my shoulder blade. I will wear a bathing suit this summer that shows ALL of my scars, including the "bullet holes." (From the two drains that removed the fluid.) I will shove these ugly scars right into your face with no regret. But...I would be lying if I said I was as confident as I used to be. You have to understand....everything about my life, including my body, changed without me having any control over it. That takes some getting used to, folks.

However, because of this passage Andrea shared with me, I feel at peace with my "new" body. You know how sometimes something someone says just hits home for you? That is what this was for me. It clicked.  I guess I never looked at it like this...

A scar does not form on the dying.

My body is still forming scars....

I am alive...

I have survived.


Caribou said...

Chelsea - you hit it on the head - We survivors, We are the fighters. Fighters have scars from battle.

If we quit, Melanoma wins and I frankly don't see that as an option. No Surrender, No Retreat!

If chicks(and dudes) dig scars, then survivors have to be the hottest people on the planet!

Fight on

Chelsea said...

Totally the hottest people on the planet! ;-)

We found out first hand that what does not kill us REALLY does make us stronger. That has to be some sort of blessing.

Unknown said...

Again love this post. It puts into exact words everything going on in my head!!! I get goosebumps reading this. It is eerie seeing someone writing down your thoughts. At the same time comforting knowing I'm not alone With my mish mash of feelings. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

My most recent skin graft is inside of knee. I usually wear skorts playing summer golf, one of my friends recently said to me, obviously you're going to keep your scar hidden this year, it wouldn't be very pleasant for us to look at - grr