“Never be ashamed of a scar. It simply means you were stronger than whatever tried to hurt you.”
My thoughts exactly every time I see myself topless thanks to the 6×2 inch thick scar that runs below my left breast. A few years ago I was diagnosed with a DFSP on my upper abdomen. DFSP stands for Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans … Basically a rare cancer that slowly grows over time. It can eventually send roots down to your muscle and bone which is why treatment is so important. Less than 1% of cancer patients have DFSP … and the group of people who do have it (like me) call themselves “the unicorns” – because if you meet one of us, we are as rare as a unicorn (1 in a million).
Flash forward 1.5 years post diagnosis and surgery. I see a scar that stretches across my upper abdomen. It took me a bit of time to feel comfortable in my own skin again – I felt damaged. Sure, I have three other scars on my body (one from when I ran through a thorn-bush in my diaper (and chubby thighs), another from when a dog clipped my eyebrow as a toddler (no it’s not an eyebrow piercing guys), and another from knocking over a hookah pipe in college (I was sober I swear!). But this one is REAL. It held REAL meaning. How in the world was I supposed to handle this imperfection smack dab in the middle of my torso? It was and is a continuous journey of acceptance.
I was lucky enough to join a DFSP support group when I was diagnosed and I am privileged to feature three amazing testimonies (yes, including my own) that highlight similar struggles with accepting the scars DFSP left behind.
Movetia, Age 50
“After years of being told the lump in my cheek was harmless, I was diagnosed with DFSP, a cancer so rare it affects 1 person in a million. My surgery left a three inch scar on my left cheek. Sadly, most people don’t ask about the scar. I get double takes, little kids point and some just stare. In reality, my scar is my testimony. My scar is a reminder that I am a survivor. My cancer journey is not over and sometimes I get discouraged but when I look at my scar, I try to remember what a joy it is to be alive.”
Pip, Age 40
“I am now in touch with hundreds of people from all over the world who have experienced the condition and at least 80 per cent of them carry significant scars.” I’ve always said I’ll never learn to ‘accept it’ but I have no choice but to live with it, so THAT’S where the choice comes in for me. I CHOOSE to live and do my best to make a difference to others with DFSP and that makes me feel ‘better’ about what I’ve endured for 20+ years.”
Sonia (ME), Age 24
“My DFSP treatment was something very nerve-wrecking to go through but I’m so thankful that I did. Now whenever I see my scar in the mirror, I crack a smile, wink at myself and say, ‘You wrestled that shark and won, Sonia’. Well, maybe I didn’t wrestle a shark … or Nemo for that matter… In the end it doesn’t really matter what I wrestled to get my scar. It’s a reminder that what matters most is that I won. And because of that, I hope it never fades.”
Remember, babes. From every wound there is a scar, and from every scar there is a story. A story that says, I survived.