This morning I woke up in a philosophical and pensive mood. The chemo queasiness ever present, but not all consuming. So with my stomach more settled and in my current frame of mind, I decided I would like to speak about my scars.
The plastic surgeon, the oncologist, the physio and Pete say the wounds have healed really well. I personally cannot comment as up until about 3 weeks ago I had been unable to look at them. Have I been a coward, have I been in denial? Yes definitely, both of those and then some!
Going to physio changed my ostrich syndrome. I suddenly had to be more in tune with my body, exercising my arm, checking for abnormal swelling and being responsible for daily manual lymph drainage. My crutch was that the wounds were still taped with a thin, but very visible layer of hypafix, a type of light breathable plaster, which Pete changed every 2 days.
My visit to the plastic surgeon last week took away that crutch. I was told to leave the plaster off for a few hours at a time and apply tissue oils etc to the scars. So there I was, in front of the bathroom mirror with all my lotions and potions and all I could think of was: this mirror had NEVER been his big before! Luck was on my side, being figuratively and quite literally short sighted I could see my scars but only in a slight fuzzy, ethereal light. It was good enough to do the job I had to do…
Now let me just qualify something, my lovely lady lumps, have never been particularly been made for the stage, and they certainly would never have been invited to the Playboy Mansion or anything. But they were mine. I knew every visible imperfection, every stretch mark, and at 40 – gravity could have been a little kinder. But we had been together a long time and had gone through a lot.
So this morning, I decided that if I was going to speak about my scars and give them the honesty they deserve, I was to look at them in a new perspective and with new eyes or rather with the new eyes given to me by Spec Savers!
To see the two dark lines running across my chest in full HD was rather shocking. The scars are not completely healed as yet, there is still a bit of scabbing and quite a bit of swelling. The right one is particularly scary, a longer cut heading towards my armpit where the lymph nodes were removed and a little more savagely cut where the 3 tumors were located.
All I could think was that surely in this age of medical advancement when they can pull out a 3kg baby from a smaller wound area, and practically remove all your internal organs from your belly button, you would think they could remove cancer with a little more finesse. The priority I guess, is to give you more years to live a life and not to leave a neat and tidy package in which to do it in. So there they are, no use crying over spilt lymph.
So I guess right now it’s all too new and raw to look at them and be anything but sad. But I hope they become a reminder of where I had been, how far I had come and what I overcame. I hope these scars will leave no room for me to forget what actually defines my life, having people around that care, that bring a meal, flowers, a card, a smile, strength. A reminder that life isn’t always pretty but that I am always going to strive to be tougher than the wounds it may inflict. I hope they will always reinforce the promises I made in my marriage vows :sickness and health, the good times and the bad.
They will certainly be the first thing I see every morning and the last thing I see every night for the rest of my life. I hope I never forget that they gave me that… a rest of a life. I hope that in the future I will not have to speak about my scars but that they will speak for me.
“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you”. Unknown
“…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.” Chris Cleave, Little Bee
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” Rose Kennedy
“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.” Cormac McCarthy
“Some people see scars, and it is wounding they remember. To me they are proof of the fact that there is healing.” Linda Hogan
“Scars show us where we have been, they do not dictate where we are going.” David Rossi