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a woman with scars on her face blushes and blocks her face with her hair and her hand while her date tries to cheer her up

Intimacy, Interrupted

“I have scars,” I said.

“I don’t care,” he said.

But I didn’t believe him. I wanted to think that when he looked at me, he wouldn’t focus on the scars. Or maybe he wouldn’t even notice them at all. But my mind wouldn’t let me believe that.

Our history

We had known each other for many years, and had dated off and on throughout those years. We hadn’t seen each other for awhile though, and he hadn’t seen me since a major skin cancer surgery. Nor the several other skin cancer surgeries I’d had since that one.

Most of my scars were fading or had faded, except for the fresh 3-inch scar on my chest from a recent excision to remove a squamous cell carcinoma. I knew it was there, and I definitely didn’t want him to see it. I felt self-conscious enough about it when no one could see it, and I sure didn’t want someone to get an up close and personal view of the bright red area.

It’s emotional

Silly? Maybe. But it didn’t feel silly at the time. That’s the enigma of skin cancer. Emotions can be raw. Moods can be euphoric after receiving great news from a doctor’s appointment, or they can be melancholy. And sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason why it’s one or the other. So I did what seemed logical at the time – I pushed him away. He was getting too close, and I wasn’t ready to share my scars.

Because what he didn’t understand is that with skin cancer, scars aren’t always just on the outside. Scars can be deep inside too – the feelings of being ugly, and less than, and undesirable. Skin cancer isn’t pretty, and it can at times make me feel not very pretty.

Every day feels different

Some days I think I have a decent handle on the emotional roller coaster of skin cancer. Other days, though, I look at people who don’t have skin cancer, and I’m kind of jealous of them because they have a perfect, scar-free face and no areas that are just waiting for surgery. I’m positive they don’t have scars from head to toe.

And I want to be like them. I want to feel desirable, and confident, and not self-conscious of my scars. I want to not go into defense mechanism mode about what someone may think of my new scars. I want to feel beautiful. I just want the scars on the outside and the scars on the inside to go away.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The SkinCancer.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • tokyo4
    2 weeks ago

    Hi, Those people walking around you are not always scar-less and you really wouldn’t know if they have skin cancer. I have virtually no moles on my body so maybe you might think I am one of the ones you might be jealous of? Wrong! I had one mole, one freak of a mole that thankfully turned out to be cancer stage 0. but I have alot of other scars on my body from various surgeries, including a great big one from a c-section and my belly button has been deformed to beyond recognition because of various laparoscopic surgery’s I have had over the years. And even though I have no scars on my face, I don’t think my skin looks so great, to begin with. But all in all, my scars and superficial flaws are part of me. I have battled with alot of illnesses over the years and these scars are just remnants of what makes me a warrior for my fight to live. I have never been affected by other people’s either. Is it really the scars that bother you the most? Or is it more the fact that every so often your body goes under the knife, because that is the stress factor that affects me the most.

  • Judy Cloud moderator author
    2 weeks ago

    @tokyo4 Thanks for your comment. That’s one thing about skin cancer – people can have a really good handle on their emotions and how it makes them feel….and then they don’t. I’m pretty even-kieled about it most of the time, but there are times that I’m definitely not. I’ve heard it described as skin cancer fatigue, when a person is just so tired of dealing with the appointments, and the biopsies, and the anxiety, and the surgeries, and the stitches, and the fresh scars are there as a reminder. Yes, they are a part of my story and yes, many days I don’t give them a second thought, but I would be dishonest if I said they never bother me or that the skin cancer procedures never bother me.
    Judy

  • wseverin
    3 weeks ago

    Judy Cloud, I am a man and I have scars on my face, too. And by the 15th of the month, I will add two more on my eyelids. I am also a musician and play in front of a lot of people. Yes, I am somewhat self conscious, but most have healed well enough to only see the incision area. But the main thing I have learned is people that like you as you “were” will not change towards you. If your man says he doesn’t care, I’m sure he meant it. Love isn’t just skin, it’s the heart and soul. Smile, get back with him and be happy!

  • Judy Cloud moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @wseverin Thanks so much for your comments. It’s nice to hear a man’s perspective! I totally get what you’re saying, and I appreciate you sharing!
    Judy, SkinCancer.net Moderator

  • Ronni Gordon moderator
    3 weeks ago

    I hear you on this and in fact just wrote my version of similar concerns. Unfortunately, our scars are not going to go away. Someone told me they are a roadmap of what we’ve survived, and I like to think of them that way though it definitely isn’t easy!

  • Judy Cloud moderator author
    3 weeks ago

    @ronnigordon I like that comparison, that they’re like a roadmap. Some days I’m fine with my scars; other days (especially when they’re new) I’m not quite as fine with them. Looking forward to reading your article!
    Judy

  • Ronni Gordon moderator
    3 weeks ago

    Thanks, I was trying to do something funny with it, so let me know if it works!

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