Posted: March 27, 2013 Filed under: breast cancer, cancer fatigue | Tags: Dance Moms, late-effect side effects from cancer treatment, psychological effects of cancer, scars from cancer, Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer, Surviving Survivorship
Last night, while pretending I was watching “Dance Moms
” with my favorite girl, I saw this Facebook post by Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer
: “Had a ‘friend’ ask me when I was going to ‘get over this whole breast cancer thing’..ummmmm when my chest stops feeling like bricks, when my arm stops swelling, when I stop having doc appts, when I do not have to have another MRI, when there is a CURE!!!”
Shortly thereafter, while still fuming from that FB post, I came across this blog post
when it was shared on Twitter by several blog friends. When more than one blog friend shares the same post, it’s worth reading. Surviving Survivorship by Cindy is most definitely worth reading.
This post about the invisible scars from cancer on Surviving Survivorship blew me away. I had to go back and read it multiple times to take it all in. Her depiction of “the darkness of hovering clouds for the cancer survivor” are so right on, so completely telling. That darkness and the invisible scars aren’t something people like to talk about. The darkness and invisible scars fall into that category of things that make people uncomfortable. I don’t recall seeing anything in the “now that you’ve been diagnosed” literature about the darkness or the invisible scars that would come. I didn’t give them much thought before my own diagnosis. Even watching my sweet mama die from cancer didn’t clue me into the darkness and invisible scars, because she was an all star when it came to downplaying the horror of this damned disease. Me, not so much.
Cindy writes that “invisible scars are well hidden, not often seen, but most definitely felt.”
In Cindy’s words:
I wanted to post my thoughts on the topic of invisible scars, and the darkness of hovering clouds for the cancer survivor. Throughout this document the words “cancer survivor” are loosely used, as cancer survivors are not always quite as fortunate as the words imply. Yes, their cancer is in remission, and that is incredibly wonderful! However … the survivor continues to spin, fearful of what may come next.
Our visible scars are reminders of each step and path along the way of disease or injury. The invisible scars run much deeper. Even when the physical scar starts to fade in color and blend in with surrounding skin, the invisible scar residing just below it continues to prevail.
For me, going through major health events, resulted in a darkness like no other. The darkness hovers, and follows me around like Charlie Brown’s friend PigPen’s cloud of dirt. This pesky dark cloud of dirt doesn’t magically go away, or even diminish. It’s a lifetime event. Actually, it grows with each late-effect side-effect issue discovered. I may be tricked into thinking it has finally subsided, but its still there, poised and ready to strike at any moment in some new unknown way.
I will say, the invisible scars can show themselves in unkind outward ways. They are indeed ugly and evil on their own. Holding inside the frustrations of the incredible physical changes I’ve encountered over the past 7 years takes a toll emotionally and messes with my psyche. Occasionally, the frustration pours out, like a burst of bad energy. It’s the darkness of the cloud that never gives my pea brain a rest.
We all definitely have our day to day issues to deal with. Work, the car, the kids, the spouse, the toilet overflowed, the dog ate the cat, etc. A cancer survivor has those plus these invisible scars weighing them down.
I’ve been weighted down lately. The PigPen darkness has been swirling. My invisible scars are prevailing. It’s something that’s hard to understand unless you’ve been there. We’re told to think positive, be grateful, and savor what we have instead of focusing on what we don’t have. Good advice, in the abstract, but pretty worthless in the ongoing pursuit of surviving survivorship.
If I had a magic wand, I would wave it over the invisible scars (and the visible ones, too, because those suckers are ever-present and an oh-so-powerful reminder of all the evil that’s been inflicted upon the bodies of those of us in cancerland). I would wave that magic wand over the darkness that envelopes even the most intrepid cancer warrior. I would get carpal tunnel from waving that wand over the PigPen-like clouds of dust that choke out even the most persistent rays of sunshine. I would dislocate my shoulder waving that wand over the morons who ask us cancerchicks when we will “get over” our cancer. (I would likely have my magic wand privileges revoked for whacking those morons, actually. But it would be worth it.) I would tear my rotator cuff waving that magic wand over each and every resident of cancerland to rid the kingdom of darkness and invisible scars.