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Felicia Carparelli is a public school teacher and writer in Chicago. She was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer in August 2018, had chemo and radiation. Then basal cell skin cancer in January 2021. She has been published in Coping with Cancer, Cure Today, Psych Central, Chicken Soup, and the Chicago Sun-Times. She has an Amazon page. "Pride and Prejudice" is her favorite book. Her book in progress, "Life after Medicare," deals with the unique issues of aging people and pets, both good and bad. She is the proud owner of a Bichon Frisé, Charlie, and a Chin-Pin, Presley, and two amazing parakeets. She also plays punk accordion, Polkas and the Dead Kennedys, on demand.

Cancer is a journey, an invasion of mind and body, a struggle and a triumph. We cancer folks are survivors and warriors. There is another thing about cancer survivors, you might not know -- we sure are proud of our scars.

As a Stage 2 breast cancer survivor in 2019, I got a nice lumpectomy scar on my left breast, two thin lines under my left armpit (bye-bye lymph nodes) and an ugly worm-like Hedwig and the Angry Inch scar from port insertion and removal.

Chemo is cool, right?

The day I had the port inserted I was knocked out. The day I had my port removed the nice young doctor and nurses were talking about the best Indian takeout in Chicago. I had my eyes squeezed shut tightly so I didn’t contribute much to the conversation.

The port itself was purple and grey like a triangle and I asked them if I could have it to make an earring and I was told no. I asked real politely again. No, it’s a biohazard I was told. Phooey. That sounds bogus. I would have cleaned it. No sense of humor these health care professionals.

Then in 2021, I was diagnosed with skin cancer. One basal cell on my left leg, and one basal cell on my right breast. Sun damage? Radiation from the breast cancer? What caused these spots? They didn’t know. Ok, med school. Now I have a rather twisty red Frankenstein-y scar on the right breast and a large quarter sized dark purple hole on my leg. It’s supposed to heal in eight months. We’ll see.

May I also add that I have a red spot that is dead center on my chest? The dermatology oncologist diagnosed it as an atypical infiltrated lymphoid. We are watching that, but no treatment yet. Isn’t that a great name? I can almost hear a punk band with that name Iggy Pop and the Atypical Infiltrated Lymphoids, man that rocks. Wowza. Cancer can be fun, right?

If wrinkles are a sign of a life well lived, then scars are a sign of a life well survived. I hope so. All those black and red lines are a reminder to me that I have I have been sick but now I am well.

As I looked at my aging, drooping but proud, scar-ridden body one evening as I poured myself into a bathing suit, I thought, “a few more scars and you can play tic-tac-toe on me.”

Perhaps that would add some spice to my profile.

Scars, I love you, I bow to you, I relish your texture and your colors. How you enhance my life! Namaste.

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