When I was about 8 years old , I tripped over a piece of wood and fell on a rusty nail that was sticking up from it! It resulted in a trip to the hospital for stitches in my knee and a tetanus injection. This injury gave me my first scar!
A few years later playing chase with my friends, I ran down a corridor that had a glass swing door at the end of it. I held out my arm to push it open and it went straight through. I looked down to see a red fountain of blood spurting from my arm. The glass had punctured the artery. Again I had stitches and gained a scar!
Since then I’ve acquired immunization scars, chicken pox scars, hamster bite scar, scars from having babies, scar from a Rottweiler bite…… and more recently, cancer scars.
During lockdown I have added to my collection! Over the past few months I have had 2 more surgeries. The first was for removal of a breast lump and the second for hernia repair.
The first surgery came out of an emergency trip to hospital in May right in the middle of lockdown! The incisional hernia that had been the result of cancer surgery, got trapped and gave me excruciating pain. I had tried and tried to push it back inside my abdomen, something I’d done many times, but without success! This time it stubbornly refused to go back in place! We had been warned this might happen, and that we would need to go immediately to hospital.
Once there, the doctor was able to push it back but I stayed in for two days while they debated whether to operate to repair it. On balance, they decided that it would be safer for me to have the surgery when the Covid situation was more under control. I was just about to be discharged when another doctor told me they had found a breast lump on one of my scans! It was like the weight of the last 2 days – prep for surgery, no surgery, prep for surgery, no surgery – grew suddenly much heavier as I stammered out the words,
Are you now telling me I have breast cancer?
Going to hospital during the pandemic is a very different experience to previous stays. No visitors and no one with you at appointments. I know it’s for safety reasons but it is really upsetting. Ian has been with me through every step of this cancer journey and yet, he wasn’t allowed in at all. He has been great at taking in all the information shared and asking questions that I didn’t even occur to me. In my appointment with the breast surgeon, he was able to join us on speakerphone. The surgeon gave us the biopsy results reassuring us that the lump wasn’t cancer but added that he needed to take it out anyway.
So I headed into surgery once again in July!
In August, I met with the hernia surgeon who set a date for surgery in October.
That is where I have been this last week. I’m home now having had the repair of two hernias found on the line of the original incision. They warned me it would be painful and it was! I spent 5 days in hospital where I was cared for during pain, sickness, breathing problems, fluctuating blood pressure and generally feeling unwell. My fellow patients in the ward were such a blessing during this time. We supported each other with words of encouragement, listening to each other’s stories and with small acts of kindness; picking up something dropped, sharing freshly cooked Thai food brought in from home, ordering a Chinese takeaway. These small things make bearable what can be, at times, unbearable.
As I was being wheeled down for surgery last week, the health care assistant was telling me about how he loved sky diving. I was saying that I could never jump out of a plane as I’d be too scared! He went on to explain that he was absolutely terrified on the first jump. In fact, it took him about 15 more jumps for the fear to begin to subside! Now he’s done over 80!
As I listened to his story I thought of the fears we face in life. While he had a choice to sky dive or not, those of us going through cancer treatment and the consequences of it, do not. We get used to fear hanging around, threatening to overwhelm! What I also thought as I was wheeled into surgery, was that we have a Saviour who conquered fear once and for all. Jesus came to heal the brokenness of the human heart and mind – the internal scars we all carry!
So what story do my recent scars tell? Yes, I’ve had more surgery for cancer related conditions, but more than that, they are part of a bigger story of a Healer, whose own scars give me the chance to know his power at work in me, externally and internally. Jesus is his name! I am so grateful that He is always near, that He comforts, guides and strengthens. And most of all, I’ve come to deeply appreciate His gift of peace just when I need it most.
My scars say….
‘ Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil,
for you are with me; your rod and your staff
they comfort me.’