Wear Your Scars With Pride
Last updated: April 2023
I remember my mother having skin cancer surgery on her nose which left her with a huge scar and a disfigured shape. The doctor swore to her that her nose would look normal, yet until the day she passed, it looked wrong. My dad had many surgeries for skin cancer but never seemed to leave anything but a small blemish.
My own scars
Fast forward a few years, and I had my first skin cancer surgery under my left eye. That one was a tiny scar that looks like a tiny wrinkle. To be honest, I’d rather have it look like a scar.
In 2014, I had another basal cell carcinoma. This time, under my right eye. The doctors required that I have Mohs Surgery and while they got all of the cancer on the first pass, I had a large scar. The first few days out, I looked like a female version of Frankenstein’s monster. They told me though, that the scar would flatten out. Sure, it has somewhat but it’s still quite a large scar that shows up well in photos.
Scars tell our stories
But you know what? I don’t care. I wear all my scars with pride, including that one. For me, each scar is a chapter in my life where something happened that I overcame. Whether it is the scar right at my hairline from a car accident when I was 16, to the small scars and disfigurements on my hands and arms – they all tell a story that is uniquely me.
I’m a photographer and took quite a few photos a few years ago of a beautiful model. When she was a child, she got bit in the face by a dog. The scar ran up her jawline and onto her face – yet she was still stunning. I asked her if she wanted the scar removed in Photoshop and she told me no – the scar was a part of her.
I feel the same way. But, not everyone feels the same - and I realize that.
Many people hate having scars
According to a study referenced at the US National Library of Medicine1
We identified five major themes related to the impact of skin cancer surgery: appearance-related concerns; psychological function (e.g. fear of new cancers, recurrence); social function (e.g. impact on social activities and interaction); adverse problems (e.g. pain, swelling) and satisfaction with the experience of care (e.g. satisfaction with surgeon). The priority of participants was the removal of the facial skin cancer as this diminished their overall worry. The aesthetic outcome was secondary but important as it had important implications on the participant's social and psychological functioning.
Discuss it with your doctor
If you are worried about scarring after skin cancer surgery, talk to your doctor about your concerns. There are many ways that the doctor or a plastic surgeon can minimize a scar. In my case, the plastic surgeon worked on my face immediately after the cancer removal.
If you are not satisfied with the results, your insurance should cover the cost of any care needed to repair your look.
Wear your scars with pride
Scarring can be a scary thing for most people, but the important thing is to remove the cancer. Everything else is secondary. And if you’re like me, scars are another road on the map that is me, and I embrace that.
Do you sunscreen in the fall?