“A really strong woman accepts the war she went through and is ennobled by her scars.”
Scars are our body’s way of helping us share our stories. Some scars are big and some small. Some are a result of a daring stunt that went wrong; some are the reminder of a traumatic event. Some scars we share, and some we don’t. Isn’t that true for most of our stories?
I have a scar that I didn’t like to share. It took me a few weeks before I would share it with my husband. I felt broken, like I was taken apart, never to be whole again. My femininity was stolen, replaced with nothingness. My scar is a result of a mastectomy due to a breast cancer diagnosis.
After the first mastectomy, I started chemotherapy. Almost immediately after the second treatment, my hair fell out. Just when I thought my self-esteem couldn’t get any lower, all my hair fell out.
Over the course of eighteen months, I completed treatment, had the second mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries. During this time, I could only focus on my health. I shut off any emotional ties to my womanhood and my body. I looked in the mirror as little as possible. I wore baggy clothes and made jokes about my appearance before anyone else had a chance.
Many women I’ve met since I went through treatment five years ago have volunteered to show me their scars. I’ve even shown a very small group of people my scars. It was just too painful a reminder to me that I was busted.
That’s how I felt—busted (no pun intended).
It was over the course of my own rehabilitation and emotional recovery that I discovered I’m not busted. I’ve met so many powerful women who have inspired me to let go of my negative thoughts about my scars. (I used to believe I would scare kids at the beach if my bathing suit top fell off.)
I’ve learned they are part of who I am. I’m a breast cancer survivor. I don’t have to wear pink ribbons to prove I was there. I have the scars. My scars went from reminding me that I’m busted to reminding me that I’m strong. I faced my own mortality. I survived. I am happy. I love and accept my body.
And I’m no longer afraid to share my scars.
In 2006, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Lockey Maisonneuve underwent chemotherapy, bi-lateral mastectomies with saline implant reconstruction, and radiation. During this time, she saw a real need for recovering cancer patients to exercise—not just for the physical rehabilitation, but also the mental aspect of regaining control over their bodies. After completing specialized training through the Cancer Exercise Training Institute, Lockey created MovingOn, a rehabilitative exercise program for cancer patients. Lockey and the MovingOn program have been featured on WABC, WCBS, News 12, WKTU, Overlook View, Shape, Park Place, and The Patch. For more on Lockey, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.