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The Beauty of Scars

Written By: Ivana Mariani

It was a usual Saturday morning cleaning day; I was wiping my bathroom mirror when something in my reflection caught my eye.  It appeared to me like I had an Adam’s apple!  I stared at the mirror and swallowed again – and there it was again. I took the stairs two at a time down to my kitchen until I was face to face with my husband and said “Look at my throat, does it look weird?”.  I took a big gulp of air and swallowed again – and this time I waited for his reaction.  And waited.  “So, does it?”

“No, what are you talking about?”

I point at my neck and say “Look at this large lump in my throat”

“That’s just your Adam’s apple”

“I’m a girl, I don’t have an Adam’s apple” I say exasperated by now.

A week later, I find myself in my doctor’s office and she tells me the lump appears to be on my Thyroid.

Six months later, I have a biopsy done to determine if the lump is cancerous.

3 weeks after this, my specialist is recommending that while it does not appear that I have cancer based on the biopsy, he recommends that I remove the lump.  “It’s quite large and so we can’t be 100% sure.  When it doubt, take it out,” he says.

Months later, I had a thyroidectomy.  I was told that there were in fact cancerous cells in the lump, nothing to be “concerned” about as I would not need any follow up radiation treatment, but I need to now tell my insurance company because it may affect my future claims.  What? I was so confused.  What I did know was that I had a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old at home waiting for their mama.  I wasn’t allowed to lift my babies for 4 weeks; 4 weeks!  I gritted my teeth but followed the doctor’s order because I didn’t want to experience a setback so I held them on the couch and my mom helped me lift my baby in and out of his crib.

Once the 4 weeks passed and my body got stronger, I thought the ordeal was behind me.  Until I met a friend and she told me how brave I was for not covering up my scar.  I was so confused by her comment that I asked her to repeat herself.

“You know, like you’re not going to wear a scarf or anything?”

“Um, well, I didn’t think about it.  Do you think I should?”

“Oh no, no, if you feel comfortable that’s great. I just know that I couldn’t do it.”

Do what?  I was still so confused, until like a dummy it hit me: She thinks my scar is ugly and that I should cover it up.

I went home and pulled out all my scarves from the back of my closet and started trying them on.  But I felt like each scarf was choking me. I was never a scarf person, hence why they were at the back of my closet.  So, I went to my makeup bag and started to apply concealer to my scar.  But it was so itchy and it hurt when I applied it that I didn’t ever want to do that again.

So, I stood in front of that same bathroom mirror, I was in front of nearly a year before when I saw something weird in my reflection.  And thought: there’s nothing weird or ugly about my scar.  It’s part of me, who I am, what I’ve been through.  The anxiety of not knowing if I had a malignant tumour and if I would see my child’s wedding or SK graduation for that matter.  I thought about my mom who had back surgery.  I don’t see her scar everyday but she does when she dresses. I wonder what she thinks about when she sees her scar?  I hope it’s the strength I see in her.  Remembering her taking months to recoup from her surgery and experiencing so much pain while she recovered.  I think about my husband who had cancer and how I hope his scars remind him of his courage and perseverance.  Our scars are not ugly.  They are beautiful.  They are signs that we are survivors.  That we have been through the ugly and have been marked by it but won’t be defined by it.  I don’t want to hide my scar, and I hope that no one else feels that they have to either.

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