Last Sunday, Feb 24, 2008, there was an essay in the Dallas Morning News called Cancer's Scars by Karen Blessen. It was talking about the emotional and physical scars that women with breast cancer bear. I urge you to read the essay if you have time.. it's quite good.
(March 13, 2012: It's no longer available at DMN, so I've tried to change the link to a different site that has the essay, but I can't seem to get it to work. So sorry. You can find a pdf for it if you'll google "Cancer's Scars by Karen Blessen")
(I'm going to stop right here and say I have a real ambivalence about breast cancer and all the attention it gets. Yes, it is horrid and I'm very glad that there is so much attention and focus on breast cancer so that it will be funded and maybe a cure found.. but what about those of us with gynecological cancer? Are we lesser sisters because our cancer is in a more "taboo" part of the body? Or because our cancer is hidden? You can remove ovaries, uterus, tubes, cervix.. even the vagina or vulva..[and yes, there is such a thing as vulvular cancer] and the results won't be immediately noticeable. Remove breasts and you can tell there's something different right away. Ok..off my soapbox for the moment, because I really want to talk about scars.)
The essay was very touching. Brought tears to my eyes. This is the part that got to me:
For centuries, many indigenous cultures in Africa, such as the Nuba, have been connoisseurs of scarification. These "beauty operations" are both ornamental and functional. Scars are proof of courage and evidence that one can endure pain without complaint. They represent stages of maturity, how many children a woman has borne or family lineage. They are regarded as appealing and erotic to touch. In some tribes, a scarified woman is seen as sexually demanding and therefore sought after.
In ancient India, warriors proudly showed their scars – if they were on the front of their body. Frontal scars were the mark of a fierce survival of battle. ....
I want my scars to be beautiful.
I know the chances I will ever again wear a two piece bathing suit or hiphugger jeans and a midriff top are very slim.. but if I were to.. it would soothe my soul to know that my scars would be looked upon as a sign of courage.
No one will ever know the courage it took for me to go into surgery. I came so close to turning around at the hospital. If I had not had my husband with me, I would've left.
I would like to feel whole again.