Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Apple Cutter

I have a very vivid memory related to the scar I have on my right arm from my second melanoma.  I’m almost ashamed to tell it, because my thoughts seemed so twisted, vane, and insane, but it’s the truth, honest and open, without holding back.  And maybe, the reason I am so willing to share now about it, is because I have had such a shift in my thinking since then, that I want to show how things can change, thoughts evolve, attitudes progress, and we grow.

Ok, so here it goes….

It was the first warm day, coming out of winter…  You know, a day to wear short sleeves.  I was thrilled, as I love when spring emerges and winter clothes are shed.  I looked forward to my short sleeve tees and tanks!  And today was the day for that!

I had an appointment at the Apple Store, to meet with a “Genius” to figure out why something with my computer was not working.  All ready to figure out this mess, I waltz into the store, donning a tank and a wrap sweater, as it was still a bit chilly when I left the house. 

I plop my stuff upon the Genius Bar, start to tell the Genius about my troubles, and as I’m listening to him start to explain the nature of the problem, I start to get warm.  I take off my sweater.  For reasons I can’t explain, I go from a total attentive listener to a self-absorbed obsessor, focused only on one thought: My scar, revealed for the first time since my surgery, looking very big and purple and jagged and ugly, is going to have this Genius thinking I am a cutter.  Yes, a cutter.  How on earth did that even come to mind?  I don’t know, but I do know that as the Genius’s eyes met my newly unveiled scar, ALL I could think of was that! 

The Genius was talking, I was looking at him, his mouth moving, explaining what I needed to do to fix this problem (the computer problem that is, not the mental problem I was having in front of him), but I was no longer hearing him.  I was swirling in my thought, my one thought…of him thinking I was a cutter. 

I left the Apple Store, not knowing how to fix my computer problem, but also exiting with a new problem…a self-created problem.

Well, this surely was not going to work!  I cannot hide.  I cannot waste my time in Crazytown!  I need to turn this around.  Breathe.  Pause.  Breathe more.

And what came was this…”This is me.” 

This scar is part of me.  It has a story behind it.  A story of melanoma.  Not of a cutter.  So, TELL IT! 

And after that Apple Store moment, I have watched my scar evolve, as well as my thoughts.  I have seen my scar go from deep purple and numb, to red and itchy, to pink and wide, and more.  I have seen my thoughts go from cutter scenario worry, to “this is me”, to “TELL the story”.

And today, I wear my scar proudly, use it as a conversation piece, talk about it when asked, use it to educate.  

My scar = my story.

Photo by Robert Sturman


  1. Strength and bravery don't always go together, but they are both needed to do what you told about in your story. Thank you for being a good example. I wear my melanoma scar on my nose, so I never had the problem you described of "coming out" of a sweater with it. The day after I got a skin graft I was scheduled to give a talk to a local club. I had a bright white bandage the size of a golf ball on my nose. People averted their eyes when I came in. I opened my talk with, "So... there I was yesterday at the dermatologist's office and I told the doctor, 'Doc, I got two problems. One, this melanoma thing on my nose...' and he said, 'Yeah, sure, we'll take care of that today like we planned. But what's the second problem?' I hesitated a moment and said, 'Well, I've been feeling a little... um... *inconspicuous* lately.' He smiled and told me, 'Great! This is your lucky day!'"

    1. Thank you for reading, Bruce! And thank you for sharing your experience. It's a crazy ride!!

  2. Your story is amazing. Thank you for sharing it and helping us all get out of Crazytown! SPF 30 all the way.

    1. Yes! Best to stay out of Melanoma Crazytown if you can! Stop the tanning and move over to the yoga! :) xoxoxoxo

  3. I totally agree! The scars are a part of every single fiber of your being. I show my scars as much as I possibly can....though the one in my left pitter is a little difficult and typically requires NOT wearing a bra - but who gives a crap!? Not this chick... Our scars are now us and are a part of our life. I said before that it gives a little pirate pizzazz :)

    1. Yes! Our scars are now us!!! Thank you for reading :)

  4. I really enjoyed reading about this particular event. I had malignant melanoma on my thigh last year and luckily I caught it early. I can safely say the nursing school saved my life because I would have never thought twice about it. I never worshipped the sun, went tanning, or had a family history of it. It just happened and I am assuming that it was from exposure from the sun from lack of wearing protection.
    Anyways the derm reexcised my scar for a third time last month and it is much larger than the original one. All the while I have been saying that it’s now my battle scare and I will wear it proudly. However, two days ago I was in the shower and I don't know what happened...I got all upset because it is unsightly and I worried that my fiancĂ© will be grossed out by it. I got out of the shower and told him what happened in my mind. He has been behind me since the beginning and reassured me that it will fade. He also said that its apart of me and it makes me even more beautiful because I beat skin cancer. I feel better all in all.
    I wanted to share my experience because though we may be different it is not abnormal to feel self-conscious about our battle scars. I spread the word every day to my patients as a nurse to check your skin often and protect it always!

    1. Thank you for sharing, Laura!!!! So much of it seems to be a shift in our attitude toward these scars...and once that happens, we are better off! Glad to hear you wear your scar proudly!