“Behind every scar there is an untold story of survival.” ~anonymous
My scars, each one of them though they may be old, purple, fading and spread out are still very present across my chest. I have scars most people could not imagine living with, more or less living through what caused them. I have been cut open and stitched up in ways unimaginable, put back together again and sent on my merry way. My scars are a living testament, a reminder I have faced death, battled the Beast and lived to tell the tale. I am not ashamed of my scars, no, they tell my story. I wake up each and every morning and face the mirror without as much as sigh. I see the mark of the Beast on my body. I am vividly aware of her handiwork, the art of breast cancer’s imprint and the impact on my life. I feel the phantom pains, the crazy reminders of a breast that once was but no longer exists. In those moments each and every morning staring into the looking glass I thank my Father for His unyielding strength. I am alive today, a bit worn and tattered but I am here some 10 years later. I may certainly be driving with one head light on but I’m definitely still driving. The Goo Goo Dolls spell it out so vibrantly in their lyrics ‘So Alive’, “Feeling like a hero, but I can't fly. No, you never crash if you don't try. Took it to the edge, now I know why, never gonna live if you're too scared to die. Breaking down the walls in my own mind, keeping my faith for the bad times, get up, get up, stand like a champion. Take it to the world, gonna sing it like an anthem. I'm so alive, I'm so alive, I'm so alive.” And I certainly am alive aren't I?.
Sure, I’ve faced fear and uncertainty. I’ve had no choice but to accept my body is a canvas of scars and imperfections. I have given up, been fed up and taken up the cause of hope more times than I can count. Life as a survivor, as a marked woman is a daily dance of hope, regret, determination and faith. Cancer is not for the weak of heart let me assure you of that. But then I do not believe the Beast ever picks her battles with anyone but the strong. Long after the battle has been won, the fight still goes on. Every day, each morning, and as the night ends our battle scars come to light as we undress. The mirror does not lie or candy coat the ordeal our bodies have been through, both the physical and emotional pain of cancer’s bite. But I will say this, and I will shout it from the roof top too; I am not breast cancer’s victim. Yes, every single day I feel it, I know I am living on borrowed time. This is the real deal, the truth, the reality of cancer and her consorts; they are never too far away, always camped outside your door. The Beast, she’s relentless, horrific and a pain in the butt to be honest. But I’ve made peace with her, and after almost a decade of warfare with the Pink Boobie Terminator there is nothing she can take from me I don’t sacrifice myself first.
I no longer live in the shadow of breast cancer. No, I live in spite of her. I dance in the light of hope, victory and persistence. My life is a beacon but only because of my faith, of His belief in me and the determination I have found in the warrior I’ve become over the course of 10 years. I firmly believe those of us torn open and ripped apart by the Beast’s talons know, “Strong souls aren’t just born. They are built by forging through the craziest perils in life and still have the ability to shine.” What I know personalty is this, long after the Beast collects on this borrowed time my light will continue to shine. Why, because cancer can’t take what I don’t allow her to take. And I simply refuse to give her my spirit. I’m also aware while I am TNBC positive; I am not a carrier of the BRCA1 /2 genes. I am the end game, the disease ends with me. The Beast in this form cannot claim my mom, my children, or grandchildren. She cannot take anyone else in my family through me. This is my victory, and absolutely her defeat. Almost ten years after cancer’s debut in our lives, she’s been put out to the pasture. There she’s most certainly set up her camp of what ifs but her whispers fall on deaf ears. As a family we keep a watch on our perimeters but we in no way live in fear of her reach. We’ve come to terms with her demands. We live with the knowledge cancer may still kick in our front door or slip through the back gate eventually but it is not today.
All these years later I most certainly know if not for the love and strength of my family I would still be lost down the rabbit’s hole. For nine years now I have been writing, exploring, and expressing my peculiar, if not awkward but very personal viewpoint living as a breast cancer survivor. And yes I pray I have many more years to continue doing so. But right here and now I want to stop and acknowledge you’re part in my story. You, my friends and family have been with me through each and every entry on this crazy blog of mine. You have encouraged me to push forward, to take rests and to completely speak my mind and from my heart. You have made me the writer I am today. I am forever grateful and thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given to share my voice with all of you. Thank you. I am humbled and touched by your endearing support. My legacy is the tale of a decade of survival, an extended life of hope and a story continued in each day I’ve been given since February 14, 2006.
And now, Life Lesson #86 ~ The scars we bare are not to be hidden away, forgotten or considered collateral damage. Our scars are our part of who we are as survivors, our battle armor. In the decade following my meet and greet with breast cancer what I know is this: Fear no longer has a place at my table. I have truly lived like never before. I wear my scars without regret. I have faith without doubt knowing my Father hasn’t and will never forsake me. Even if I lose my battle with the Beast one day, I believe Deuteronomy 20:4 to be true, “The Lord your God is going with you, and He will give you victory.” You see, I am a survivor and my scars are living proof of this. To my fellow sisters and brothers in arms remember as October comes to an end, this is our month to shout, dance and reflect. We are warriors, our scars are the stories yet to be told and paraphrasing Daniel Saint, I say this, “We wear our scars as our best attire. A stunning dress made of hell-fire.”