When something is less than perfect, we usually feel the need to cover it up or find a solution to make it better and more normal. I have big scars on my stomach from my surgeries and how I feel about them has changed over the last year and a half.
I was very confronted with my first scar from the initial big surgery. It was planned to be done laparoscopically, but due to unexpected complications had to be done as open surgery, so when I woke up and had a big red wound from my pelvis to above my belly button it was a surprise. This surgery left me with a temporary ileostomy (stoma bag) and this made the scar even more challenging because I needed to change my bag each day over the scar, so there was no way to ignore and not see it.
During this time a lot of people told me, in a well meaning way, that perhaps I could get a scar cream to heal it and help it to fade. I was recovering from major surgery so I didn’t have the energy to worry about fixing my scar, if I was going to do anything it would be later on.
My second surgery to reverse my stoma was meant to be simple and would just leave a small scar the size of the stoma. Unfortunately I had a lot of scar tissue so the incision needed to be much larger. So now my first scar has a friend as they join up at my belly button.
Now a year and a half on both scars have faded a lot, although I do get keloid scarring so they are still raised above my skin. I still am conscious about them, particularly the thought of wearing a bikini and having them visible, but I am lucky that for the most part my stomach area is always covered. I have a lot of respect for people who are able to go public with their scars/their stoma bag early on in their experience because it would help a lot if differences like these with our bodies were seen as part of life and less of a strange sight to see/stare at.
In the year and a half since my first surgery, I now feel much more comfortable seeing my scars everyday and don’t wish they weren’t there. I have a skilful surgeon who did a very precise job with both surgeries to give me a good outcome aesthetically, and the more the scars heal the less confronting they are to me.
The scars remind me of what I went through, and as a result how far I have come and how I am living a relatively normal life now, which was hard to imagine when I was recovering from surgery and could barely walk from my bed to the bathroom.
It’s still a hard realisation that my body will never look perfect again, but at the same time these surgeries and my scars were necessary to keep me healthy and cancer free.