Art Journaling,  Life,  My Breast Cancer Journey,  Sketching,  Thoughts,  Uncategorized

The Strength in Scars

Scars . . . we all have them.  Some are visible, some not.  Some are emotional, burned onto our soul while others are there for the world to see.  Some are scars we just see.  Some we hide, some we can’t.  No matter, scars are reminders of where we have been, what we’ve endured and how we’ve made it out with the choice to tell our story.

It’s been not quite 3 1/2 years since I had a double mastectomy due to a breast cancer diagnosis.  About a year after this major surgery and several surgeries after that, I endured some very deep emotional scars due to a tragedy that took place in our lives.  I was sharing with someone recently what it was like the first time I saw myself in the mirror after my double mastectomy (an amputation of the chest basically).  It was breathtaking.  It was hard.  It was scary.  It was ugly.  It was unbelievable.  I didn’t see fine, little stitches but bright bruises and heavy duty industrial staples all the way across my whole chest.  While it was ugly in the beginning, it was also comforting to know the cancer was out.  It was reassuring to know that this was the first step to the rest of my life, whatever that looked like; which did include chemotherapy and other treatment.  Of course this was a process of healing.  It took time for things to look and feel better.

I’ve pondered scars and what they mean.  While they are difficult to look at, there is also strength in their existence; a reminder that there is still life.  They represent a statement that the survivor has journeyed through a deep valley and made it through thus far.  Beauty that there was once a sick open gaping wound but now a process that has brought healing.  Scars can represent wisdom and feat.

During the healing process we may have to tell our heart to trust.  We may need to encourage our heart that later in the healing process there will be good things that blossom.  Sometimes during the healing process there is uncertainty.  We can embrace the ambiguity and the splendor of ‘becoming’.

I’ve experience both physical and emotional scars. I’m pretty sure you have experienced your own as well.  I am grateful; grateful for what I’ve learned through the journey.  I’m grateful that I’ve endured, persevered and survived a trial that was deep.  I made it through!  Helen Keller said, “Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.”  My scars and yours, represent strength, determination, triumph, and so much more.

I want to encourage you to journal today.  If you’re an art journaler great . . . if you just want to take a moment and write a letter to yourself, perfect.  Ask, what scars do I possess?  What lessons did I learn when I endured these scars?  What process did I have to endure?  Was it pain?  Betrayal?  BUT more importantly ask; how has this experience made me stronger as a person today?  Have I been able to help another because of these scars?  Have I shared my story in a safe place?

I know some of you have deep scars. I do too.  I encourage you; look how far you’ve come.

Yes, you have scars.  Yes, you have endured.  Yes, you are a survivor.  Yes, you are strong.  Yes, you are beautiful.

Daughter, Wife, Mother, Friend, artist, vintage loving, law enforcement officer, Southern Californian, God and country loving girl who loves to meet like minded creative people, share life with new and old friends. Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better. ~André Gide


  • Michelle Salazar

    This is a wonderful post. I remember that after my surgery my SIL who was a nurse just burst into tears and could not look at me and for day I would not look at myself. Until one of my Doctors sat down and told me I do not have the luxury of hiding my scars nice it was my face and that I must learn to live with them and to look today so you can see the healing and how much better it gets in the end. It was a tough moment but I looked that day with help and support. I as always thankful for this Dr to take the time to help me through a moment I am sure I could not get through by myself.

  • Debra S

    You inspire us too look into ourselves and see are strength. I am sure some of us have forgot that we strength deep inside. I know I do and reading your words helps me remember I just have to look inside myself and remember where my strength comes from,and then I can handle my emotional scars.

  • Marianne B in AZ

    You are so amazing – inspirational, encouraging, brave, and so much more, inside and out! This post has really given me food for thought, in a way nothing else has in the last two and a half years as I have been dealing with my own scars. The scars are physical, emotional, and the cause of the debilitating chronic pain. There one small one added to the other two similar to it (from previous surgeries), across my throat where it meets my sternum. These three are just cosmetic, but still a reminder each time I look in a mirror, of each failed attempt. The 7″ disastrous path through the muscle and nerves” is a different story. Although I rarely see this scar, I am aware of it nearly every waking moment. It has changed my life in a way I never dreamed would be the outcome of something I made the conscious decision to do. It left me with acquired Dystonia. Each day i try to make the day about staying in the moment…and the great news is that it works out pretty well for me. I’m thankful that if I can be able to do anything, I can still do card making! That is my daily therapy. Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing this today! I don’t think I knew how helpful it would be just to put everything I just did into words.

    • artsychick

      You are strong Marianne! You are beautiful. I know you’re going to be able to use this for good to heal another. Yes, I can understand parts of your journey my friend, for sure. Know you remain close to my heart! Know I’m here if you want to talk. This really touched me that these words resonated!