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The Scars We Cannot See…

Have you ever taken time to count up the scars on your body?

I don’t have that many really. I have one by my right eye from when I ran into the stairs when I was a kid and gashed my face nearly taking out my eye. I’ve always been a bit of a klutz. I have one or two chicken pox scars. I have one from a tiff one of my older sisters and I got into once.

And then there are my cancer scars.

I have the “usual run-of-the-mill” breast cancer scars, I suppose. I have the two four to five inch mastectomy incision scars on my chest. Then, there are the two smaller ones under each arm from the lymph node stuff. There are several tiny ones from my oophorectomy and hysterectomy. It’s amazing how unnoticeable those are. And then, there is my chemo port scar. And the drain scars. And my recent knee surgery scars (yes, I count those as part of my cancer scars).

I don’t think too much about my cancer scars these days, though of course, I see them every day when I shower or get dressed.

They are always there like “silent loud speakers”.

Some women say they see their cancer scars as badges of honor. They wear them proudly. Their scars represent how much they’ve been through, how hard they’ve “fought”. I guess I feel like that too, to some extent. But then again, I’m not so sure.

My scars are just there. I don’t feel honored by them. I’m certainly not proud of them, and I don’t let others see them. Heck, even Dear Hubby hardly ever sees them because yes, I am more self-conscious now. I dress and undress in private.

I have a strange relationship with my scars.

Sometimes I see them. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they bother me. Sometime they don’t. I’d much rather they weren’t there. It doesn’t matter anyway. They’re not going anywhere. They are here to stay.

There have been numerous women who’ve had breast cancer surgeries proudly posing topless, or even in the nude for whatever cause or reason they are moved by to do so for. They claim to be making a statement of one kind or another. Some are showing tattoos they’ve had. Posing for such pictures takes guts. Showing your scarred body publicly cannot be easy. Kudos to them. I applaud them. I do. They certainly are inspiring to many, including me.

But guess what?

I am even more inspired by the women (and men) who share about their inner scars; the ones they cannot see – the ones no one sees.

When you think about it, those inner, invisible scars we all have are the ones that often hurt the most.

I have deep inner cancer scars that I have yet to share a whole lot about. In some ways, these are the ones that feel most personal, cause the most pain and are hardest to talk about.

These are the scars that take longest to heal and perhaps never completely do.

Whether you are talking about cancer, or other things that happen to us in life, this is true.

For instance, think about those comments made to you when you were young that really stung. Maybe you were bullied, or ridiculed for one reason or the other. Or, heaven forbid, maybe you suffered from abuse of some kind.

Any physical scars you received probably healed much more quickly and more fully than the ones that were seared into your memory forever.

We all have scars of one kind or another.

Some are easily seen and shared about.

And some are not.

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Cancer or no cancer, what kind of physical scars do you have?

Do you have scars no one sees or even knows about – emotional scars? 


The scars we cannot see #cancer #breastcancer #mastectomy


Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

I was diagnosed with childhood brain cancer in August 2013, stayed in a hospital for 5 weeks, and turned 10 in a hospital bed early the next month. I only vaguely remember my hallucinations, which apparently lasted around 26 hours. I can still run my fingers through my hair and find the bald line where my incision was, and trace it almost continuously from my right temple to the top left side of my head. As of this writing, I still have MRIs every three months to monitor its progression. I think I should mention that I would have started my last year of elementary school during this time had this not happened.

I had a laser ablation in April 2015, which was far less consequential. However, what happened next is the opposite.

I think it was from August 2017 to November 2018 when I had chemotherapy. I remember graduating from middle school during this period. I also remember having to go to the ER twice for what would have otherwise been considered mild symptoms of a cold. I am not sad to not feel the bump on the left side of my chest that was my port anymore. Looking back, I am so thankful this was not during COVID.

In May 2020, I was diagnosed with epilepsy, quite literally, as a long-term effect of the scar tissue left over from almost 7 years prior. Since then, my prescription has been changed something like 4 times. Instead of just lamotrigine, I now have to deal with lamictal on top of that- though that could change sooner or later, according to my doctors, but it would be a dangerous balancing act.

These are things you can’t see when I’m wearing my second-degree black belt and leadership uniform at my Taekwondo academy, where I can get knocked down but still get back up.

And I’m just 18 years old.


Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

Isaac, Gosh, you've been through a lot. I'm sorry you've had to deal with so much. It is really something how a person can appear totally fine on the outside, but nonetheless, have a whole lot of scars that no one sees. And I don't just mean the physical ones. I wish you all the best. Thank you so much for sharing.


Saturday 14th of May 2016

Great post, Nancy. Thanks for re-sharing it. Oh, yes, those inner scars are legion. xoxo, Kathi


Monday 16th of May 2016

Kathi, Thank you for reading and commenting. The inner scars are so much harder to deal with and they never heal completely. xo


Saturday 23rd of April 2016

I like the "silent loud speakers" metaphor, too. I liked my scar at first, I thought it was "awesome" and yes, such a "badge of courage," lodging right up there with my other badges of Womanhood (age spots, wrinkles, grey hair) and Motherhood (stretch marks, C-section). Gradually the mastectomy scar didn't feel so courageous, and now I call it more of a "brand," like when slaves are branded or cattle and oxen. Branding implies ownership, and I don't want to say cancer "owns" me but I feel a bit "possessed" by the disease and "marked" and marred by it. I like the comment that scars only happen to the living, not dead tissue. That's a good reminder. The inside scars, those are another story, aren't they. I have my hair, I dress nice, a smile is a bit hard to summon most of the time, but people think I must be "ok" now. I guess I'm whining for sympathy and to be noticed. I wish I felt as normal as everyone thinks I look. I don't wear the $500 fake boob b/c it makes me feel even less normal (now that I am the "new normal" which is NOT normal), and no one notices. Truly, no one is looking at our chests! I am petite and small busted so the uni-boober effect is lost on the public. Even my good side looks flat. If I have to face the "reality" of lopsided chest, the rest of the world does, too. This summer my bathing suit is going to be sewn flat on the left side.

Sunday 4th of October 2015

Oh, perfect podium for me to vent!! I love that you call your cancer scars “silent loud speakers”. I had a single mastectomy so far and am having prophylactic mastectomy in November. The inner scar for me is my boyfriend, whom I was living with when I got diagnosed, and with for nearly 3 years, had told me all along "you can live with me until you are done with radiation, then you need to move out." Since I didn't end up needing radiation (thank God!) he kicked me out when I still had tubes coming out of my side. I had to move all of my possessions to of his house 10 days after my mastectomy. Inner scars.


Monday 5th of October 2015

beautythroughthebeast, I am sorry about what happened with your boyfriend. How horrible to deal with all that on top of everything else. I'm glad the "silent loud speaker" thing resonates with you. To me that's exactly what my physical scars are. And those invisible ones, well, those are much "louder" in some ways and a lot more difficult to deal with. Thank you for reading and sharing. Feel free to vent any time.


Wednesday 13th of August 2014

Dear Nancy and all those who have opened your hearts on this blog.whether it is visible or emotional scars do remain.far too many genuine lovely people suffer.i have lost loved ones to cancer.x myself i am ftm transexual i too have physical scars i hate and emotional scars from abuse My love and respect goes out to all who suffer in silence xx


Wednesday 13th of August 2014

Lee, Thanks for sharing about such personal matters and for your kind words.

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