Post Op: Day 12
Today, after checking with my specialist, I took my steri strips off.
I had wanted to do it sooner, but decided to double check with the doctor in case he had any other useful information I should know about.
It took me over an hour, not because the strips were that hard to take off (although they were still surprisingly sticky after almost two weeks), but because it became an emotional process. I hadn’t realized how much I was anticipating this moment until it was finally here. The steri strips kept my scar, as well as my cancer, in it’s ambiguous stage- telling people felt serial, taking my meds became second nature, and attributing my fatigue to the daily stresses of life and being a college student. But today? That all faded away because this was real and I would finally be able to see real proof that I wasn’t dreaming anymore.
I won’t lie to you guys, I cried haha. Its important for me say it because even though I’m generally not open about my emotions, I’m not a one demential person. I remember sitting in the office, my parents waiting outside. The biopsies were really scary. I had to lay down while a Novocain needle was injected, and then two samples (which consist of inserting a needle into the nodule and then vigorously wiggling the needle around to get a good sample of the contents inside). This was done to 3 nodes. Then, sitting in the chair holding my gauze from my neck and being told “there is a 95% chance I have Papillary Thyroid Cancer”. I immediately distanced my emotions from the situation. I kind f felt like I split in two. Not only was I was freaking the hell out, but I realized that in order for this to work and for me to be able to keep my composure and my goals, I needed to be able to think rationally and absorb as much information without any other thoughts or feelings clouding my mind. From there, I was swept into the whirlwind- secretly checking online about the cancer (because Kristin specifically told me not to) and trying to prepare myself as much as I could before going into surgery and starting this new phase of my life journey.Now here I am. Facing this intangible concept with the physical and symbolic representation of everything I’ve been going through and those unknown yet to come.
I know its not big, it looks a little scary in the photo, but its mainly red from the steri strips being pulled off and some normal scabbing and bruising from the surgery itself. The point is, it actually really happened, and each time I pulled a strip off, it revealed more and more of the reality I’ve been mentally avoiding. It was like telling myself for the first time that I had cancer, even though I’ve been telling others calmly since it first started.
A friend of mine, Erin told me “Even though you are strong and optimistic, you will have bad days. There will be days in the future where you’ll feel sick and cry and not want to leave your room. Just remember that life doesn’t give you things you can’t eventually overcome.”
So, I had my moment and I accepted it like a giant wave crashing over me and then retreating back to the sea. I know it will fade and will be over looked if not pointed out specifically, but this is my battle scar, my tattoo of strength, my badge of courage. And I will wear it with pride for the rest of my life
“What’s the bravest thing you ever did?
He spat in the road a bloody phlegm. Getting up this morning, he said.”
Cormac McCarthy, The Road