Monday, August 20, 2012

A Scar Does Not Form on the Dying

Well, we made it through Monday! I always consider that to be a huge success. I don't know about y'all, but I always feel so exhausted when 5 pm rolls around on Monday's. It just seems like such a long day answering the phones, dealing with grumpy patients, and sleepy co-workers. Ah...

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Since my bed is calling my name, I wanted to post one quick question.

First, we all know how damaging melanoma can be. Let's put health reasons aside, melanoma causes us to look at our bodies in another way. While I eventually learned to accept my scars, I did struggle and give in to the urge to wear scarves and hide behind my hair after my surgeries. Even now, I cringe inside when people ask about "the sunken hole" in my neck.

You can really see the indentation in the left side of this picture.

I wrote an article for Everday Health about being The Girl in the Mirror. I said, "Dealing with body image issues after cancer is a common battle for patients. I felt like I needed to hide behind a scarf following my neck surgeries. I did not want strangers to see me as the sick girl. I wanted to keep my cancer completely hidden. I still remember the first night I went out with my girlfriends without said scarf. It was a Saturday night, and we were leaving the boyfriends at home. I pulled my hair up in a fashionable updo, looked at myself in the mirror, choked back a sob, and said, "Let them talk!" I had so much fun that night, and you know what? Not a single person questioned me about my neck."

It was one of those moments I don't think I will forget.

Do you struggle to accept your scars? Or have you finally realized that scars are wonderful things, memories to be proud of, proof that you really are a cancer ass kicker?

"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


Kisma said...

Beautiful! I love my scars:-) every last one of them.

rebekahgrace05 said...

I totally understand! When I first had my scar down my neck..I was freaked out! What would others (friends, etc...i don't have a boyfriend..what would the future he) think!!?? My friend told me straight up.. "do you think we'll love you less"? Well, no....but, it's so NOTICEABLE...So, I wore my hair down. a lot. and scarves. Then, I got used to it..and it's faded. Now, I wear my hair scarves. Sure, I'm still self concious sometimes...but overall, I've forgotten about my scar. It's a part of me and everyone does NOT ask about it :)

Kate said...

Love your post! Maybe I'm more shallow but I honestly struggle with my scar.

Anonymous said...

I have embraced my scar. It's three inches long on the top of my forearm. My surgeon removed the tissue down to my muscle, and then pulled it tight to close it up, so I have quite a divot now.

As for the questions and comments that I get now about my arm? Bring 'em on!! It's the perfect opportunity for me to educate others about melanoma and sun safety. More than once, I have felt so grateful that my scar is in an obvious, visible place, especially if it means that I can help others decide to make smarter decisions than I did!

Sarah Hartley said...

I have one scar that I'm pretty proud of for having survived. But then I have one on my forearm from where my cat scratched me. That one does not make me happy :)

Heather said...

I've been following your blog for a few weeks now and I have to say that I think you're an inspiration and I wish I'd found your blog (or one like it) when I received my Melanoma diagnosis in 2009. I had my surgery a week after receiving the diagnosis and they excised a thin Melanoma from my lower back, (less than .5mm thick, and no lymph nodes were compromised), leaving a 4-inch scar and 20+ stitches.

Thankfully, the PET scan I had in 2010 declared me as cancer-free, but I went through a rough time emotionally (dealing with the fear) and wouldn't look at my scar. Fast forward to 2012, I was featured in our local town's paper earlier this year (for the work I'm doing with Relay For Life) and as a result, MANY people asked to see what I now refer to as my "battle scar" at the Relay event itself. It was liberating in a way to share my story and show my scar to them because I knew I had brought more awareness to our Skin Cancer fight.

Anyway, I just wanted to say THANK YOU you for all you're doing to spread the word!!

Kelly { MessyDirtyHair } said...

i love my scars, i think they define who I am. Embrace them girl! New follower btw :)

Chelsea said...

Thank you all for your wonderful comments! A melanoma warrior shared that quote with me last year and it has been my favorite ever since. Oh, I love when words inspire us....

LOVE to you all!

Rebs said...

Being diagnosed with Melanoma while pregnant was harsh. Raging hormones along with being cut open was not a good combination. 18 months later I am now only just becoming comfortable with my scars. In fact, I am a little proud of them as it means I am a survivor. First time I have read that quote and I love it! Thank you for sharing!