Tape, tattoos and tapestry (Or, I took off my bandages today.)

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There’s been a lot of talk about ‘selfies’ lately. The word sparks a great deal of debate. Some feel that they’re pretentious, or egotistical, and that taking a photo of oneself automatically makes you seem self-obsessed. Some would condemn selfie-takers as narcissistic. Others acknowledge the power of being able to take a good picture of oneself. To take a shot that shows you to the world in a way that you want to be seen, rather than being caught in a mushy-faced-mid-confusing-conversation-at-a-coffee-table candid shot that someone immediately posts on Facebook for all to see. 

I recently read an article floating around online called Under the Red Dress. It began with a photo of a drop-dead gorgeous, glammed up blond woman wearing a fabulous red dress – I paid attention, having a bit of a weakness for the colour (even post-red-devil). There was a series of photos that followed – full of courage and shock and relief – that revealed the woman under the dress. Her scars. No photoshop, no gentle lighting, just a real hard look at a body that has seen some tough times. I admired her. Found myself wondering if I had the courage to join the ‘red dress’ movement. I don’t think I do, but I decided I loved the concept. 

I took off my bandages today. Carefully pealing off steri-strip after steri-strip along my newest scars took some prep, it must be said. For the past few days I’ve been tentatively removing one or two, getting a little glimpse of what my body’s going to look like. Today, the day before my follow-up appointment, I decided to get rid of the rest of the tape. Did so, had a shower and then did what we’ve all done at some point in our lives. Stood in front of the mirror in the cold light of day and took a look. There’s a story to be told, I realized, on all of our bodies. Scars help tell that story. 

Scars on my knee tell the story of me falling into gravel on a run whilst attempting a flippant wave at a student. That was a good one. Two small scars, one on either hip, show where fat-grafting was done recently. C-section scars, both earned through the emergency life-saving births of my sons. The tattoo full of its own story just above them. PICC line, drains, and lymph node removal have all left their mark on my body as well. These scars tell the story of saving my life. A small white line on my forehead tells the story of running into the corner of a wall as a small child, running to greet my ‘Matante’. A few stitches there. A deep line on my right hand, reminding me not to put a hand on a hot element. Learned that lesson. Countless other little nicks and nubs whose stories are long forgotten. The removal of today’s bandages revealed the newest scars, ironically there as evidence of my rebuild. 

It’s a scary time, this naked mirror time. It’s scary for all of us, I think. We wonder how other people will see us. We can be hyper critical of ourselves, looking for flaws rather than beauty. We can forget about the stories our body tells. 

I just happen to have a few stories. 

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9 thoughts on “Tape, tattoos and tapestry (Or, I took off my bandages today.)

  1. Scars make us more interesting or as a police officer once said to me as he picked me up off the side of a road from biking accident, ” the scar will add character”!

  2. “We wonder how other people see us.” Yes, we do…I think they wonder how we see them, as well. But I how we see ourselves is more important. You have bravely bared your feelings in some detail over this trial of yours. You have been forthright and thoughtful. I believe the support you have is earned just by being a lovely person. But to answer your question, I am 73 years old, have seen beauty in many forms. Tanya, you are beautiful. It really is as simple as that. Inside and out. The scars only add to the knowing look in the picture above. You know, and are really the better for it…

  3. As a sister breast cancer survivor here in Northwestern Ontario I have truly enjoyed sharing your journey by reading your blog. I had a direct to implant done in Wpg in August after my double mastectomy. I also ended up with incisions opening up, and infection, and all the healing and anitibiotics that went along with all that. I’m wondering if we shared the same team of Doctors in Wpg? I seen Dr. Buchel. I sincerely hope you are finally starting to heal from your reconstruction. I finally did…..and I do love the new me!
    Thank you for your wonderful way with words!

      • I’m happy to let you know I’m happy, happy, happy with the way my direct to implant has finally turned out! It has taken some time to get here, but worth every minute. I finally had my “come to Jesus” moment when my IV antibiotic-tubing froze up while trying to stay active and feed my barncats in the barn this winter. It really sucked, and I had to surrender, sit in my chair and just simply concentre on healing. …..then I finally healed they way I should have earlier before the problems I had.happended. . I’m BRCA2 positive…..so I’ve known for a long time that my chance of breast cancer was wayyyyyyy higher than average. Once BC found me, I made my peace with breast cancer, then made my choices. My team in WPG are the best!! I absolutely love my final outcome!! My boobs are a beautiful!! LOL…… I talk about how LUCKY I’ve been. My BC was caught early because I was getting MRI’s every spring and mammograms every fall…..I have had the BEST doctors in this area,,……and I want to share my experience and all I’ve learned with others.
        You, Tanya, have been very inspirational to those of us going threw all this Breast Cancer stuff…….you go girl.

        I spent 6 weeks on IV antibiotics. They re-cut and re-stiched my right side in late October…..I ended up with an infection at Nov18’ish…(I was too sick to remember the actual date….LOL) I went to Wpg for what I thought would be a couple days in the local attached hotel…..not so, they put my butt in the hospital for a week! …..on IV antibiotics!! I was alone…..I flew in alone on WestJet and thought I’d be that for an overnight stay…..they kept me in WHSC hospital for 7 days!!!! I’m so lucky to have had several family and friends to call in. They showed up and were there when I so badly needed my extended family and friends! LOVE my extended family and friends!!
        I sincerely hope the best for you! I still look forward to your pages in the TBay Chronicle Journal. I hope that my experience will help you, as your experience has helped me.

        I look forward to hearing from you as we move forward with all our breast cancer reconstruction. I`m getting to know the “new me“ as I finally proceded forward with my life. ……but, even though had some diffuclties getting here, I’m soooooo happy with my new boobs. Please contact if you need someone whose been there, bought the T-shirt, and is hopefully on their way to healing! 🙂

        Cathy Hoard
        cathyhoard21@gmail.com

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