A tree grows with bandages along its bark to show growth

Honoring Your CF Scars

PICC line and port scars, meconium ileus surgery scars, lung transplant scars, and G-tube scars - that’s just the beginning of the permanent marks CF can leave on the body overtime. CF scars and their accompanying stories are often inevitable after years of being necessarily poked and prodded for one’s own well-being.

Scars tell our stories without us uttering a word most times. Our scars are much more than just damaged tissue embedded in the skin — they hold significant meaning, impactful memories, and powerful emotions as well.

Count the PICC line scars

In my case, the insides of my arms are freckled with pencil-eraser sized PICC line scars I collected with each hospital admission. Like an abacus, I am able to slowly count them as I’m taken back to those particular admissions. When I look at the string of dots, I remember how tough and lonely that season of life was being in and out of the hospital in early college was.

I also remember my growing sense of responsibility over my disease and the uncertainty of my future. As if I am there, I can smell the PICC line team and their sterile drapes and cleaning solution. There's a flush of anxiety and the feeling of relief and pride after conquering a particularly hard PICC insertion.

Making peace with my port scar

When it was first decided I needed a port-a-cath in 2014, I was a vibrant yet sick newlywed in my young 20s. I knew I needed a port with the frequency of IV antibiotics I was doing, but I hated the idea of having one implanted above my breast. Thankfully, I saw another woman online with CF who had a port on her ribcage under her breast and it appealed to me because it was a conspicuous location.

I immediately made my doctor agree to find a surgeon who could put it in the same unusually hidden place. If I HAD to get a port I wanted mine placed there — not in the common area below your clavicle where everyone could see it without my authority.

I still stand by this decision 7 years later but not because it protected my vanity, more so because it gave me a sense of control over CF. Now, I am able to proudly show off my port because I have experienced how valuable that 2 inch scar has been to my health.

Honor your scars

The most important reaction you can have in response to your CF scars is to eventually make peace with them. I imagine it's easier to make peace if the scar is a smaller size or the procedure or experience somehow benefited your health in the end. However, even if the scars evolved out a negative experience, they are still part of your story with CF. They are a medal of honor showcasing your survival.

Therefore, show off your scars with pride! They show your strength, perseverance, and vulnerability living with CF and that’s an amazing thing to display.

Do you have any scars from living with CF? How do you feel about them? Share with us below!

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Cystic-Fibrosis.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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