My scar was messy, purple, and prominent for a very long time. I covered it. I was afraid. I didn’t even want to look at it myself. I fought as hard, and for as long as I could to push it, everything, and everyone away. I didn’t want to have to deal with any of it.
In January of 2006, at nine years old I was diagnosed with cancer. I started my chemotherapy and five months in I had my hip and femur replaced with a titanium rod, which was followed by six more months of chemo.
After I was officially in 'remission', it took me about two years to even be able to say the word cancer. I was so embarrassed and so emotionally scarred by the experience that my physical scars seemed to be the only thing I could control - by covering them completely.
Towards the end of my first year of high school, about three years after my cancer experience I found out that my prosthesis was faulty and had imploded. It felt as though I was being knocked back to square one - I had to have my prosthesis replaced; my scar opened up again just as I was beginning to come to terms with it. I was devastated.
Since my first Scar Stories portrait I have had my prosthesis changed for the third time. Three times in seven years, I’m working on a record! Only this time, when my surgeon sat me down to talk me through it, instead of crying and throwing a tantrum, I leaned back and said to him, “do whatever you need to and cut as much as you want, it’ll make a great Scar Stories portrait.”
Now, I am 19 and have officially joined Jasmine and the Scar Stories team as their Member Liaison Officer and biggest fan. Jasmine has been a close friend for almost five years now and mentored me and supported me endlessly throughout my journey.
Being given an opportunity to be involved in an organization that has changed me so much has really given me a purpose in life. I now feel as though my scars are there for a reason, they are a tool for empowerment.
This new portrait of me is a way of showing the change in my life. Not only has my scar changed, but I have as well. Being a young adult is a whole new ball game, and I'm slowly paving my way, albeit a little differently than my peers.
Having my photo taken is daunting and nerve-racking to say the least. Even the second time around! But to watch other people look at a photo of me and cry, or smile, or appreciate my scar is indescribable. To look around at a Scar Stories exhibition and see a room full of photos, full of real people who are all like me is so profoundly comforting. And now to be able to be a part of this moment and this journey for other members, to be with them along the way, is the most rewarding experience I have ever been a part of. It has completely changed my life. I've finally found my purpose, and I am finally proud of my journey and how far I've come.