When Life Gives You Scars

While laying on the couch one day, Merrick looked over at my partially exposed stomach and said:

"So that's where I came out of your belly?

"Not exactly buddy. That's where they took the cancer out. You came out a little lower." And I motioned to the location of my faint c-section scar, made more obvious thanks to my colon resection, and a little something I like to call scar, on top of scar, on top of scar.

I've never tried to hide my body from my kids, and Merrick routinely tells me that he sees me naked "all the time." Not exactly. He may not have noticed that "all the time" has quickly become, "only when I have no other choice," after I caught him staring a little bit too long at one of those unnecessarily large Victoria's Secret posters in the mall one day.

I decided that from then on the female form might be taking on something a little more thought provoking, and perhaps he was at the age when the female body he lives with should become more of a mystery. Some of his observations about me where evolving into something a little bit too detailed for someone who will be wearing deodorant in less than 5 years.

And then there was that time when we were all changing from a swim in the family locker room at the gym.

"Is THAT where I came out of your body?"

Caught mid-dress, I looked down and quickly grabbed the nearest towel. I then lowered it just enough, and showed him the pencil thin scar that was made for his birth, and the slightly longer scar on top of it for Lachlan's birth, and then the fat little scar that crashed the little scar party during my colon resection.

And though I have no issues outside of my own extreme vanity with the scars themselves, I realized in that moment that I was looking at 3 life-giving moments that left their permanent mark on my body. For many cancer survivors, the scars left behind are debilitating, painful, embarrassing, or a constant reminder of what cancer took from them - be it their masculinity, their femininity, or a chunk out of their person as a whole.

It is a constant, visual reminder of the evils of a disease whose only intent is to take.

Those 2 pencil thin scars, though hardly noticeable, were where life emerged from my body. I could go deep into the bowels of parenting mush and talk about hearing a baby cry for the first time, or seeing a perfectly formed human emerge from your body and taking a breath of air. But you get it, those scars represent life.

And then I have this 3 inch incision running through my belly button. Though not quite pencil thin and perfect, it represents its own life. From that scar emerged cancer, and with the departure of that 3cm wad of tissue, I was handed back my life. So in a weird way, life emerged from that scar, too. And I find that empowering.

I'm not afraid to wear a bikini and let people stare. If they ask I will tell, but in the end a scar is a small price to pay for life.

Side note and unsolicited endorsement: Given that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, no once can avoid the explosion of pink that happens in an effort to raise awareness and money for the case. But there is no awareness more powerful than the scar. It speaks louder than any ribbon, NFL jersey or celebrity. I consider The SCAR Project one of those powerful voices.


Karen said...

Oh how your body can become a road map of cancer battle scars, eh? I've got several myself.

My favs are the pin-point tattoos I received for radiation treatments. For years everyone kept on telling me that I poked myself in the chest with a pen. :)

Sarah DeBord said...

Wear them with pride!