Thursday, November 10, 2011
There was a knock at the door and a soft voice asked, “all ready?” My pulse quickened.
The woman that entered the room was stunning. She was a tall African American woman in her thirties with long straight hair and a gorgeously toned body. I instantly felt self-conscious. She moved through the room with confidence and poise--she was truly magnificent.
“You can go topless if you want,” she started in, “a lot of my customers do. Or if you want to wear the disposable thong that works, too. Whatever you are most comfortable with.”
Here came the cancer word vomit ... I felt it building up inside me surrounded with a heap of panic.
“I don’t want to alarm you, but I need to tell you something before we start. I have a lot of scars because I am a breast cancer survivor.”
The technician was incredibly attentive and sympathetic to my story. But to my surprise, she had her own.
“I have a two year old son. I had a hard pregnancy and gained over 80 pounds. They did a c-section. My stomach was such a mess with excess skin and scarring that my father said he would get me plastic surgery ... like a tummy tuck to get rid of the bad part. The plastic surgeon was bad and botched what was supposed to be my flat stomach. Now I have to live with this forever.”
She pulled up her shirt to expose the scarring and gaping sections of her stomach that still remain.
She continued, “You are so beautiful. Look at you. You’re a fighter and now have this healthy, curvy body. God is great and look what the doctors were able to do for you.”
The anxiety I felt coming into the tanning salon subsided and before I knew it we were laughing about her adding some color to my booty.
The experience wasn’t about comparing myself to someone else or her scars being worse than mine, but about understanding that we all have something. Maybe some more severe than others, but we have all been through challenges and perhaps don’t like certain things about our bodies. It is a personal journey of acceptance of one’s own self and loving who you are despite sickness or injury.