Can a scar be beautiful?

Can a scar be beautiful?Cheryl Gilmore, daughter of an American father and proud Portugeuse mother, moved here from Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband Ron four years ago. her story is one that will inspire others.

When my husband and I retired and moved to the Algarve a few years ago, I made a silent vow that I’d have a simpler life and live free of my dependency on designer names, magic potions and anti-aging creams. I wasn’t going to let the media or society steal my joy of growing old gracefully! I was even going to push away from my television and opt for warm, breeze-filled days on the beach or hours planting in my garden. I was going to learn to like myself as I was, and I actually looked forward to it!

All of that changed after a routine mammogram here in November when, to my surprise, the radiologist discovered a lump. A biopsy, a slew of tests, X-rays, and scans later, I was told that surgery was required. Ron and I met with an excellent surgeon who told me how lucky I was that my cancer had been caught early and how great my prognosis would be; he methodically explained every step of the process moving forward. After listening to him detail what my next few months were going to look like, he asked if I had any questions. The first one I asked was what kind of scar I would have and whether I could still wear a bikini. Looking back, I’m not very proud of that first question but it was honestly what I was thinking about in that moment. Clearly, just knowing that I had an excellent chance of surviving my diagnosis wasn’t enough for me. I needed to know that I would emerge scar-free!

A story to tell
Although scars are a part of the roadmap of our lives, they have always been scary to me because of their permanence. As children, we used to delight in telling our friends about the most dangerous thing we had done and how we had this big scar as a result! It showed our friends our courage and survivability, and we wore our scars like badges of bravery and honour. But that’s when we were kids. Now we look at a scar
and it reminds us to be better next time, to slow down and be more careful. Sometimes they are proof that something more serious has happened, and looking at them reminds us of how fragile we are and how cruel this world can be. I have managed to escape most large scars throughout my life and the smaller ones seem to have faded over time. The thought of having a big permanent mark on my body frightened me. But now my new scars tell some of those same things I felt as a child – they tell of my survivability. They are proof that I did the right thing. Now I am cancer free and embracing my new scars. I feel victorious! There are so many ways to become scarred in life, physically and otherwise, and to know that mine are the result of a decision that I made to live my best life and to continue to be here for my children, grandchildren, family and friends reminds me that no one truly escapes this life without a scar of some kind. When we look at a scar from a burn or a cut, the lesson is in the leftovers. We survived it somehow, we became better because of it, and although we may not always be so proud to show off our scar, we’ve learned to live with it.

"I want to see scars of others celebrated because they are beautiful and they tell our stories"

The right decision
So, to answer the question – yes, I think a scar can be beautiful when it’s viewed through the lenses of appreciation for the life we have now, and the realisation that each scar makes us stronger and more courageous. No longer am I interested in magazine and television ads that promise to help rid us of our scars, or lighten them, or magically make them disappear. I’d like to see an ad where we embrace the physical reminders of our survivability and our courage. I want to see scars of others celebrated because they are beautiful and tell our stories. And if I had the chance to redo that very first meeting with my surgeon, I would ask this: “How soon can we schedule the surgery?”

 Article by kind permission of AlgarvePLUS MagazineCLICK HERE to READ MORE.

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