Monday, May 29, 2023

Invisible Scars

I have many visible scars from various diagnostic procedures over the last 18 months. I have a scar on my ribcage from my chest drain, a scar just under my arm pit, and a scar just underneath my right breast, from my Hodgkin’s biopsy. I also have scars on my arms from cannulas, and from a bite from my son, that wouldn’t have usually scarred, but because I was going through chemo, pigmentation was altered. Then I have a scar on my throat, from the thyroid surgeries.

Those are permanent reminders of what I have been through. They won’t go away. People can see them (OK, maybe not the rib and breast one so much) and will wonder what they are. The ones that are bold enough might ask. The ones that aren’t might talk about me to others later, asking them if they know what it is.

Those scars don’t bother me. It’s funny, because maybe they should. But I don’t find myself hiding my thyroid scar, by making sure I wear a polo neck, or a scarf or a necklace, because I don’t feel like I need to. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed because of what I went through. What I find difficult to cope with, are the emotional scars. The worry that every time I get a cough, I wonder if I have a chest mass again. The worry about whether I’d be classed as high risk for my next pregnancy meaning I can’t have the homebirth that I wanted when I was pregnant with my first. The worry about whether I can even get pregnant again. The worry that if I relapsed, my boy might have to grow up without his Mummy.

I woke up one morning really upset. I’d had such a realistic dream in the night. I can only ever remember having a dream that real once before, and it left me feeling really shook up for a long time. I’d relapsed, and there was nothing they could do for me. It was so realistic. Even my consultant that I see was in the dream and she was the one that had to tell me. What had actually happened, was that I hadn’t relapsed, so much as I was never in remission in the first place. The consultant had not looked at the scan properly and there was still active disease.

I know that isn’t a possibility. I saw the scan myself. The only active hotspot was my thyroid, which has now been dealt with, but to wake up with that feeling… it was horrible.

Scars don’t have to be visible to be there. Sometimes, the invisible ones are the worst.

This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.

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  1. Jill Bessett-Gansauge

    Terrific article. This is exactly what I have been going through…over a year after surgery and being cancer free. I have the dreams, also. The anxiety isn’t always there, but strikes at odd times. The emotional scars, for me, are so much worse than the visible ones. I’m sure everyone thinks I’m ‘over it’ since the cancer is gone and I’m going on with life, but I’ll never be over it. Cancer is now a part of me whether it’s in my body or not. It changed me and affected me. And that will never go away. Best wishes, Roz. You’re in my thoughts. Stay strong and keep fighting like a girl!

    • Becky Lawrence

      I agree with both of you. I have had Hodgkins twice and have all of the biopsy scar’s myself along with a zipper from open heart surgery and many more. I ended up having a stem cell transplant to cure mine. It is terrible for sure anytime I get sick with a cough or anything that seems or feel’s different. I definitely have a different perspective on life and how I see everyone in my life now and how much the little thing’s in life really do matter. Let’s all do our part in helping to understand and support all in need. i will always fight like a girl and I love this site!

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