You learn a lot about your body and yourself when you have cancer and you come away from the disease with scars. There are physical scars from surgery and treatment that are a constant reminder of what you have been through. There are emotional scars that cannot be seen but that are also just as real. Everyone tells you to find a new normal; that things are different now. Finding a new normal was not acceptable to me. I wanted my old life back. Since I am a retired librarian, I started doing what librarians do; seeking information and asking questions. Mainly I just wanted to know WHY things had to be different now.
The physical scars from surgery itch and pull. My clothes still don’t fit exactly right. Other people can’t see the scars but I know they’re there. I can feel them every time I move and see them every time I get dressed. It is a reminder to me of what I’ve been but also that I’m still here and strong despite my battle scars. For those of you with similar scars, here are some suggestions. Palmer’s cocoa butter works great to help keep the scar area moist and not so tight. Use it daily! The after effects of radiation continue to change and alter my skin. I have been blessed to find a massage therapist who can break up the scar tissue that forms and keep my muscles moving. I only wish that everyone had access to the kind of care she provides. I continue to hope for a day when alternative therapies like massage therapy and yoga become an integral part of cancer care along with traditional medicine practices. Current research shows that when the two are combined, patients have a better quality of life during and after treatment. Most people going through cancer treatments don’t know that there are services available. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for suggestions.
Then there are the emotional scars. Sometimes these can be the worst, especially when you don’t have someone to talk to about your fears. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog. I wanted other people to know that their feelings are real. Trust me, you are not alone. Anyone who has been through a diagnosis of a life-threatening disease has scars even if they don’t want to admit it. It’s okay to feel that way. It becomes harmful though when you don’t find an outlet for those fears. There are support groups in many communities. These people get it; they live in your world and they understand what you’re going through. Daily meditation to focus on being positive is helpful. For me, it is time spent in prayer, reading my Bible and a short devotional. Yoga is also a great stress reliever for anyone; sickness or not. The practice of yoga teaches your body to relax and helps you stretch and move. Restorative yoga is a great way to start.
Scar tissue is real. It hurts both physically and emotionally but it doesn’t have to remain that way. Do what I did. Ask questions, read and find information about your particular problem. You don’t have to accept that you will never be the same. Maybe it is a new normal but it does not have to be one filled with fear or pain. Hopefully with all that you’ve learned about yourself, it will be better normal!
Blessings, Cindy J