There are things we go through in life that leave scars. Some are physical, some emotional and some are both. The scars that cancer has left me with will never heal. They may fade, but they will never be gone for good. Cancer has left an indelible mark upon my body and my psyche. The physical scars left from my mastectomy and the three followup surgeries are very present. I see them every time I dress and undress. They are red, jagged and still very tender. My last surgery was less than three weeks ago, so that is understandable, but still hard to accept. I actually measured the scar on my left side and it runs 16 inches long! From my breastbone, across my chest and around to almost my shoulder blade. Sixteen inches!!! There’s no hiding that my friends…trust me I try!
I saw my surgeon this week for my two week followup. He examined me, cut some of the sutures that were sticking out, reprimanded me for how swollen things were…I wasn’t “resting” enough, handed me a pre-op package and started to discuss the NEXT surgery. The next surgery? I haven’t even healed from this last one. To be honest, I need a break from this. From needles and scalpels and sutures and PAIN. I want to wake up feeling good. I want to go to bed at the end of the day without dreading what kind of night I will have. I want to things to be the way they were before CANCER. But they never will be. Ever.
Even if my physical scars may fade someday the scars left on my soul are there for good. Not much is talked about in the “cancer world” regarding the emotional damage done by this disease. The fear that is ever present that one day it might come back. The anxiety that overtakes your entire being every time you enter a medical building, hospital or lab as you relive your diagnosis, tests and surgeries. The financial toll this disease takes when you are unable to work but still have to pay the bills. The physical drain of just trying to get through each day when you feel so tired that getting up to pee might as well be climbing Mount Everest. The loss of self esteem and self confidence that is shattered when you are sliced and diced and carved up to rid yourself of cancer. How about the loss of friends and loved ones when you need them more than ever. Cancer strips you of so much. It turns your life upside down and keeps kicking you even when you’re down. Cancer is the biggest bully I have ever met. It doesn’t listen to reason. It doesn’t care about your feelings. It doesn’t want to be your friend. It wants to destroy you. Plain and simple.
I have always been a “wear my heart on my sleeve” kinda girl. I cry at commercials on T.V and have always had to work on not showing my emotions at inappropriate times. So you can imagine just how hard it has been for me to keep my shit together and not be a puddle of tears 24/7. My emotions are bubbling so close to the surface now that one small insignificant thing can set me off. I’m working so hard to keep everything pushed down, way down, where no one can see what an absolute fuc#ing mess I am most of the time; but its a struggle. I am not saying that I am miserable all the time…not at all. In fact, I make a point of trying to laugh as much as possible…and usually at my own expense. I mean, if you can’t find the humour in this shit storm of a journey I’ve been on, then well, what can I say? If I couldn’t laugh about some of the things I’ve been through, I don’t think I would have made it this far. Laughter helps to cover what you’re really feeling. It helps cover those painful emotions that keep trying to escape from the basement you’ve locked them in. And laughter helps deflects the awkwardness some people feel around me now.
Cancer has left me with scars. Big ones. Painful ones. But with time they will fade, but they won’t heal completely. Cancer scars you not just physically. It leaves its mark on every aspect of your life. It makes sure that you know its been there. It makes sure that you see and feel the damage its created. This experience…these scars, will always be there to remind me of what I’ve been through and what I have overcome. The scars that cancer has left upon me reminds me everyday of just how lucky I am, because these scars that I see and feel mean that I have survived.
President of As You Like It Marketing & Communications Inc. Award winning speaker and author. Breast cancer fighter and blogger. I’m sharing my journey…the good, the bad and the ugly. Hoping to help anyone else that has been touched by breast cancer be it you or someone you know or love.