"Today I am a little angry at the world. I'm angry that it's been 2 years and 2 days and I still don't feel complete. I have been cut up and then stitched and stapled, but today I don't feel whole. I'm angry that my memories and dreams of what happened blend together with the present. It's 2 years and 2 days and today I don't feel okay. But I will. "
“I was born without both radius. When I was one I had my first surgery on my right hand. One year later doctors decided to operate on my left hand. Two different doctors operated on my hands. The first operation went well. During the second operation, there were some complications. Doctors didn’t know that bones in my left hand are different from the ones in my right hand. When I was 15, I noticed that there was something wrong with my left wrist. I had to have surgery once again. This disease is called hemimelia, and a case like mine happens for 1 in 100,000 people. I always had a big problem with my scars - I couldn’t accept myself because of them and other people also had a problem with my scars. Now I think that this is who I am. Finally I can feel that I don’t have to hide it, because this is the real me.”
“I’ve become the strong and independent woman I am today because of my Mum, and because of what happened. It has all been a part of my journey. It started when I was 5 months old - whilst taking a nap, a fire started next to my bed and I lost two fingers. It took one year of recovery at the hospital, and 25 years to accept it. I went through awkward handshakes and looks, children’s whispers and hiding it at all costs - which meant always using my other hand. Because of what happened, my Mum raised a fighter who is not afraid of who she is anymore. I am not going to hide it, although it still hurts when I move my hand and it is sometimes a mental struggle to fully accept it."
"I was born at 24 weeks, weighing 1 pound 11 ounces. The big scars across my stomach is where where my bowel had not fully developed properly resulting in tiny little holes across my intestine which caused septicaemia. The doctors described it as operating on a piece of spaghetti. The scar below it is a result of having an ileostomy bag. The star shaped scar under my armpit is where a tube was placed in order to help feed me. The scar across my neck is where a tube was placed in order to receive medication. My mother always reminds me that my scar were supposedly meant to shrink as I grew, but instead they grew with me as reminder to always appreciate my life"
"I have scarring and stretch marks on my left leg due to the condition Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), a condition I was born with. This meant going through multiple operations at a young age. I have started to feel confident about my scars in the last few years, accepting them and embracing them."
“I was born with five holes in my heart and have been wearing my zipper since I was 2 weeks old. I had my second lot of open heart surgery at 2 years old and my third lot at 26 (6 months ago!) because my heart was too big. Oh the irony of having a big heart - physically and metaphorically! I have truly been on a heart journey my whole life, and my scars are a reminder that I am strong and can do anything. When I was little my parents did the worrying for me, but having my 3rd lot of surgery this year, I have really understood the strength and beauty of my scar. It’s me! To have an open heart is a true gift in life, and I’m lucky enough to have been opened 3 times. I used to not even be able to say the word scar- as if it was something evil and ugly, but now I see it as a beautiful word. The older I get, the more honoured I feel to be a part of the exclusive “zipper club” and yes, as a woman, it has been hard wearing a scar down the middle of my chest, by my breasts. (one of the sexiest parts of your body!) - but the way I see it is that I’m so abstract, Picasso would want to paint me!”
"I was told I had breast cancer in April 2016. After various tests and biopsies (from which I have a few tiny scars), I had surgery a week before my 27th birthday. I don’t remember much about those first few days, expect I watched a lot of The Sopranos and I was in a lot of pain. The first time I saw my wound I was inconsolable. I had a lot of issues over the next few months - my nurses said I’d broken the record for longest time taken to heal after a lumpectomy. My body rejected the dissolvable stitches, and I had a couple of infections. One day I was out with friends, and my wound opened up on one side, by the time I got to A+E blood was pouring out and my shirt was drenched. So the scar is much thicker than the original incision. It’s difficult to talk about still, and I’m definitely not totally liking my scar yet, but I’m getting there. It’s not easy having a scar on a part of your body that’s “Sexy” - I don’t have that relationship with my breasts anymore. This journey with cancer has taught me a lot, and I appreciate my body for doing it’s best and keeping me alive. I know that soon I’ll appreciate this scar too, as a reminder of how I had the strength to get through. The scar under my armpit is from the same surgery, where they removed a few lymph nodes to check if the cancer had spread - it hadn’t. I’ve had a lot of issues with movement in my arm and tightness in my armpit from it - who knew being able to put your arm above your head would be such a lovely, joyous achievement.”
“My name’s Tracey. I’m a 45 year old mother of two. In 2012, my GP diagnosed me with a common cold which drastically got worse. I was given cold medication which made me feel awful. I called 999 and someone came out to see me. They said everything was fine. Everything was fine for 40 minutes or so. I asked my daughter to make dinner, and then I went upstairs to lay down - and didn’t wake up. My daughter called 999 and her and my friend Chyle got in an ambulance to Kings College Hospital. When I awoke, I was confused. I did not recognise my daughter or friend. They ran a CT scan and found out I had two types of meningitis. I was put in an induced coma for a month. When I was awoken, I could not speak. My daughter came to see me daily - I could hear her but couldn’t reply which annoyed me. I later found they’d put feeding tubes down my throat - I was told that I kept trying to pull all of the tubes out. I was kept in intensive care for a further two months before having a heart attack. Whilst I had my heart attack, Doctors found a growth on my heart valve and a whole in my heart. They replaced my valve with a titanium one - which ticks like a little clock. After the operation they moved me back to the ICU, but this time I was in an isolated room because of the meningitis and recovery. After a month I was given a tracheostomy which allowed me to talk and communicate with Doctors, nurses and my family. For a while, I couldn’t speak properly and could only manage basic communication and small talk. I found it hard to understand others, but tried through one word answers. In April I was moved to Lewisham hospital’s neuro ward where the Doctors taught me the basics of counting, talking, walking, eating, drinking, washing and dressing. For the first month I could not walk properly so I was given a wheelchair - and then a zimmer frame to walk around the ward called “Frank Cooksey”. The cooks on the ward kept feeding me as I was a size 2-4 at the time - after weeks of walking around the ward, they let me walk around the hospital with family, friends and hospital staff."
"I've had 15 surgeries, a brain tumour, a punctured intestine, an obstructed bowel, a cyst in my brain and a condition called Hydrocephalus. I grew up without realising my body was different until one day I wore a bikini and was met with looks of pity and shock. I thought the solution was to hide them and never talk about them, but in fact, what helped me was the exact opposite. When I was 21, I finally started embracing my scars and accepting my body for what it does. In celebration of that I launched a campaign called #scarrednotscared because I knew I couldn't be alone. I didn't want anyone to feel isolated in their struggles with physical illness and chronic pain, and it became the perfect platform to remove the shame around our scars and our bodies in general."
"In the summer of '15 I was in a house fire. My clothes and way of life up in flames. I spent my summer in London in a burns unit on Fulham Road. My scars and scar tissue continue to change, but I have never felt more beautiful."