I had someone suggest to me to that I write about my scars and enlighten those who may not know how I got them and shed some light. Well, I can certainly do that and can also answer questions anyone may have. I will say I wasn’t sure whether to be flattered that this person thought I could contribute anything meaningful on the subject or once again embarrassed by the appearance of my scars. I will outwardly chose the former, although inside I know it’s the latter.
Cancer. The big C. One of the most dreaded words in the English language. It’s scary because it’s usually a death sentence. By the time it’s caught, it’s usually too late. I think everyone knows someone who has been diagnosed with some form. It affects all ages, races, rich, poor, men, women, everyone. It definitely does not discriminate. “Oh, you live in this big house and carry that gorgeous Prada bag….we’ll just skip you on this whole cancer thing!” Yep, doesn’t matter.
I have Melanoma. Multiple melanomas. My first diagnosis came when I was 27. I was just married to my second husband (also known well as Michael! I should start calling him my current husband so no one is confused.) my oldest son was only 5 and I received the call. Now, it is not like they show it on TV. I wasn’t called to come in and sit down in my doctor’s office and her saying, “Chrissy, I have your test results back. I don’t know how to tell you this, but you have cancer…..” (Cue the sad music) It was actually much more factual than that. They told me over the phone that my biopsy was positive for melanoma and I would need to come in and have another surgery to remove more tissue and have clean margins. Clean margins. That phrase has been repeated to me so many times I can’t count at this point. The area was in the middle of back, right between my shoulder blades. I now have a roughly 3 inch scar that was my first. She also had to go in extremely close to my spine, but thankfully, it had not spread that far.
I cried and I cried. I cried because I was scared, I cried because it hurt, I cried over the little things like how was I going to wear a backless slinky dress ever again because, ya know, I was soooo known for wearing backless slinky dresses!!! I cried because my Grandma died from melanoma and now here I was at 27 being diagnosed with the same thing! I’m only 27!! How can this be???
As I said, I have many, many scars, quite a few additional ones on my back, a few on my left arm, and the ones I’m most self-conscience about….2 huge ones on my left leg. One on my shin going vertical, one going horizontal across my thigh just above my knee. Wearing shorts and a tank top for me is quite a spectacle and it took me awhile to be brave enough to actually leave the house! The surgeries on my leg were pretty rough. The each required more than one surgery to get those clear margins and the cuts were long and equally deep. Some muscle was taken from my thigh along with the surgery. My doctor keeps saying the scars will fade over time. Ummm hmmmmm. Still waiting.
The recovery from each one was boring and horrible. I wasn’t supposed to move unless I was going to the bathroom or after a week, I was allowed to shower. Shower, back to bed. It exhausted me anyway, so I was glad to lay back down. It does NOT help my physique however! And it seemed like every time I would be cleared to resume normal activities, another one would pop up! For quite a few years, I was having a surgery every 6-9 months. That’s a lot of scars!!!
Now here’s the question (or I should say statement, because everyone seems to like to it point out) that I get all the time… “How can someone who has been diagnosed with cancer keep going in the sun and hanging out at the beach and and and…….” Well, let me address this one with “Because I can!!!” My doctor (who by the way and for the record, is one of the best skin cancer doctors around and I have gone to her since before my first diagnosis and I trust her with my life!) knows that I go to the beach. She knows I go out on my boat. She knows that I go to the pool. She knows I have been to tanning beds. She knows all of it. My type of melanoma is due to 2 factors; heredity and early long-term exposure. Neither one can I do anything about now. I can sit inside, or slather on SPF 100, or wear long sleeves and a huge sombrero (well, I couldn’t, but you? You could totally pull that off!) but that isn’t ME! The beach is ME! Sunshine and warm breezes and cool drinks with little umbrellas and cabana boys coming over to mist me so I don’t get too warm…. that is ME!!
I have done all of the above mention taboo activities even after my initial diagnosis. I am now……over 27! My doctor rocks! Do I want to hear on the other end of the phone “It’s melanoma again, let’s schedule something for this week.”?? Hell no. But I’m also not going to let it keep me from living my life. I can claim triumph over my life, and live with the scars.