Written in the scars

February 2, 2013

In life, we all make mistakes. We misread, misunderstand or underestimate texts, people and situations. Most of us keep making the same mistakes. I have had my share as well. They have created a number of scars, both mentally, emotionally and physically. I even created a personal quote for it:

“My life is written in the scars” 
– Bert Verdonck –

Some are visible; others are mere shadows of what truly happened. Each one has its own personal story. Some fresh as the day they happened, some faded by time or the lack of attention. Some are told with pride and reiterate the pain that makes us aware once more of the origin of that particular scar. Others are painstakingly avoided and only muttered under protest to admit our stupidity, stubbornness or sloppiness.

Some scars have changed my life. Like the one on my back did. When I was in my teens, an oval mole (melanocytic nevus) on my back began to grow. Luckily, it was noticed in time. The dermatologist was pleased that we came in time too because the mole was digging (like moles do ;-)) and growing inside me, not only on the outside. The longer we waited, the deeper it went. When they took it out, it was already more than 6 cm deep. Unfortunately, it was right between my shoulder blades, which is a place that is devilishly difficult to keep still.

I find it terribly hard to sit still 😉 So, it was a challenge to do so…for more than 6 months. Long story short, skin transplantation was needed to cover up the “hole” so it could heal from both sides (up and down).

Now, why do I tell you this? Well, this surgery not only kept me from doing sports for a full year, it also made sure I always protected myself from the sun. That part of my skin used to be unusually sensitive to the sun, so I put super protection on it, but also on the rest of my body. Not pleasant at the time, but I look at it now, especially at how it has created awareness about skin cancer in me. At a young age, I became aware and adapted my behaviour because of this. I do admit, not what I wanted at the time, but so valuable in retrospect. Not just for me, also for those around me! What else did it teach me? That a lot of people instantly draw their own conclusions. Even before they have  asked me about it, they assume the worst…

It has happened to me on numerous occasions that people would not dare to ask at first, but only after a while and for some, only when they have gained enough courage (by consuming alcohol or by other question-provoking means 😉 ):

“Have you been shot (in the back)?”

Depending on who they are, where we are and what the atmosphere is like, I would engage in a cliffhanging story of how I was shot. At some point, of course, I would tell them the truth. However, I never thought of the skin cancer awareness before. Now I do, and therefor, I wrote this article. Enough people have lost the battle against (skin) cancer. Next time anyone asks, I will tell the full story about the awareness. So thank you, dear scar, for teaching me a lesson (or two).

What are the stories behind your scars? Are you too scar(r)ed to share? I am curious what you have learned from them.

Enjoy Every Day,
Bert Verdonck

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