Well-being

Scars – Seen and Unseen

Scars.

 

We all have them. Some of us hide them while others put them on display. Some of our scars are visible on our skin and others are deep, deep inside. I am not ashamed to say that I have both.

My most recent scars have come after an elective double mastectomy. I am a BRCA+ carrier and after a decade of researching what that means to my family and to my future, I came to the scary decision to remove my breasts. This decision did not come easy, but it was the best option based on my risk factors and the life I wanted to live with my husband, three children, our puppy, my extended family, and my circle of friends. Some would say it was my only option. Time will tell on that one.

I had two pre-surgery surgeries before going under the knife for the big one. I was left with minor scars from the incision sites from all those surgeries. Yet, in the end, I ended up with a lot more than those few scars on my skin.

I was doing ok the first few days after my double mastectomy, but then ended back in the OR in an emergency surgery due to a terrible infection post-op. That emergency surgery. That fateful day left my deepest internal scars. Scars that will likely fade over time like the scars on my skin, but ones that I need to recognize all the same.

These scars leave me wondering.

Did I make the right choice? Did I pick the right surgeons? Did I rush into this? What could be different if I waited? How will this impact my kids? Will my husband look at me the same again? Will he stay (he didn't sign up for THIS)? What will I look like when this is over? Will I look like ME?

These scars are based in fear. Fear that took hold while I was recovering in the hospital for 5 days. I was afraid I'd fall into a deep depression. Before that happened, I had to shake myself of that fear and secure myself in reality. I was going to be okay. Life would return to normal and we'd figure the rest of it out. While my rational side was easy to convince, it was my whole being that needed to be convinced. With my husband and support system (and my smiling kids) I had faith that in time, these dark days would be a distant memory.

Even though I have begun the healing process and am moving forward with reconstruction of my breasts, I still have physical scars. Scars that aren't easy to ignore. Scars that only I see in the mirror. Yet, those each represent the scars in my heart. Pain and hurt. Worry and fear. Those are just as valid as the scars on my skin. I share this with you because if you just met me on the street, you wouldn't know this was my story.

I think it's really important that as women, we lift each other up. That we don't judge each other, but rather support one another. It's important to give grace and accept each other as who we are, scars and all. The scars make us, us. Separately we may feel fragmented and broken, but together we are whole. Please find the value in one another and share your scars. Scars may be evidence of pain, but they are also proof that you lived. Share that life with those around you. I promise you, they want to share theirs with you.

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Don't let your fears build a wall around you. Knock it down and own your scars.


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Mom of 3 married to my high school sweetheart and living in suburban Chicagoland. I blog about how messy, but beautiful life can be.