It happened several years ago. I woke up from the only surgery I’d ever had… a mastectomy. As soon as I emerged from the fog, realized where I was and that I had survived, I grabbed at my surgical gown. Pulling at that fist full of cloth, I opened my gown and looked down at my chest. There were no bandages. Just a clear strip of surgical glue over the inches long scar where my left breast used to be.
If you were a fiction writer, writing this moment for me, imagining what a cancer patient might feel as they have their first look at what’s left… you might describe sadness, devastation, tears, and anger.
But here’s the truth of it.
In that moment, the biggest of smiles spread across my face–because I have never felt more beautiful in my entire life. Ever.
There in my hospital room, beauty wasn’t based on other people’s definitions. It wasn’t based on how the world expects me (or any of us) to show up. It wasn’t about attracting or managing a man’s gaze. It wasn’t about living up to anyone’s ideal. And it wasn’t about making myself small.
In that moment, I understood the gift of a human body. And it should be so basic–this idea that your body makes all the living possible. But we get so far away from that. We get so caught up in how the world defines us, our internal critics just as punishing. But in this moment? The cancer was removed. The healing happening. Beauty was bonus moments with my children. A bonus life. An un-promised breath, full and life giving. I felt beautiful. And I also felt deeply, truly proud of myself—tougher than I ever imagined, more grateful than I can put into words. Beauty was joyous. Beauty was life.
We all have scars. Some are on the inside and some are on the outside. Some of us are just waking up from a very serious thing that just happened, but is over now. Some of us are still in ‘surgery’ with the hope of a ‘morning after’ glistening on the horizon.
No matter where you are right now in your journey, let me be the first to tell you, I see your scars. And my dear friends, you are have never been more beautiful.
With hope and gratitude for a beautiful 2023,
P.S. Know someone who could use these words of encouragement? Feel free to forward this post!
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