There is a lot of talk among folk with cancer, breast cancer in particular, about living with its scars. Women with breast cancer sometimes have their breasts removed - some of them have reconstruction, the bolder among them do not. A new claim is being made in a recent commercial that women have a special, life-long relationship to their breasts. The implicit message is that having them removed is particularly costly psychologically.
Although I think this notion of having a special relationship to one's body parts is beyond ludicrous, I understand that having a part of you removed or cut into is very difficult to cope with. When this happens, your body becomes something of an object to you. There comes to be an explicit delineation between the physical self and the mind self when one has surgery, or serious a condition/illness, so much so that some people talk about feeling as if their body has betrayed them - like it has a mind of its own and that one day it decided, "Hey! I think I'll grow some deadly cancer cells today! You think Ruth will be upset? Well, f@ck her! Yeah!"
Anyway, after my most recent surgery, I was thinking of all of the scars I have collected in the last three + years. Since no one in their right mind wants to see my scars for real, I have created a cartoon so you can see the marks that cancer has left. Know that before cancer, I had only been in the hospital overnight once for a kidney stone and twice to have my children; hence, the expression on Cartoon Ruth's face:
I do not have a special life-long relationship with my breasts (It would be very one-sided if I did as they don't have much to contribute). What I do have is a life-long desire to have a healthy mind and body. These scars that I carry, just like those who have breast surgery, do remind me of my cancer every day and that's hard. But each scar functions, in a way, like a tattoo (shout out K-A). Like a tattoo, each scar is a memory on the scrapbook of my body. Each reminds me that without it I would probably be dead already. Each reminds me of how much my mind and body can handle while continuing to function well and happily. Each also reminds me of each person who has helped me through these challenges, be it my doctors and nurses, my friends, or my family. What a lovely thought...
....I'd rather have the tattoos.