Embracing My Cancer Scars Because I’ve Earned Every One of Them


I’ve had leukemia for 13 years, and don’t owe anyone an explanation why my hair is short, or my face looks puffy.

Cancer and change go hand in hand. When you get a cancer diagnosis, everything from your finances to your body to your daily activities changes.

Things don’t just change once; it is a constant state of flux and learning to adjust to that flux can be a challenge because there is so much out of your control.

I have had chronic leukemia for 13 years, and when I look in the mirror, sometimes I don’t recognize myself. There has been so much change in 13 years, not just from the aging process. I have lost my hair and grown it back, taken steroids so many times I can’t count, underwent countless rounds of chemotherapy and immunotherapy and blood draws for years.

Sometimes I wonder, “Where is the young woman with long, flowing hair, a thin build, fantastic skin and eyes that don’t look tired?”

Thirteen years of treatment have done a number on my body. I was so sad that I wasn’t that young woman anymore for quite a while, and I mourned her. …I have gained weight, have short hair now, look tired all the time, and my face is puffy from steroids, but I am still BEAUTIFUL. I still rock my favorite outfits, my eyes sparkle and I love having fun with my hair!

My body is a warrior. I am a warrior. Together we have battled leukemia for 13 years; that is something to celebrate! That has allowed me more time with family and friends, opportunities to give back to the community, enjoy my favorite things and be part of this crazy world.

Anyone going into battle will come out with some scars; I earned every single one. My eyes look tired because I am fighting hard, and I am proud of that. I have gained weight because of steroids, chronic pain and fatigue, but I embrace it because I can still do the things I love; that is a gift. I no longer worry about having perfect hair or nails; I am happy to have hair and nails!

For those people who make comments to me about looking tired or being overweight, I ignore them. I used to explain myself, but I don’t owe anyone an explanation, and I just want to remind you that neither do you.

I know it sounds cliché and perhaps a little pollyannaish, but after 13 years, you learn what is essential and what isn’t. I encourage everyone to find their beauty inside and out and to own it. Focus and celebrate the beauty you have today; don’t worry about the past. Do I sound like a Hallmark card yet?

Seriously, take a minute and pause, remind yourself how beautiful you are, and keep fighting.

This post was written and submitted by Michelle Lawrence. The article reflects the views of Michelle Lawrenceand not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.

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