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Ok, this is more of an "intimacy" question but here's the sitch. When I had my surgery to remove my cancer, it left a 15" scar across my abdomen and part of my side. I'm also not the smallest of women out there, so I have a bit of a gut. When my bf and I cuddle or hold each other, and even when he is tickling me, I'm always very aware of my scar. It's only been 6 months since the surgery and I feel a bit self conscious about it. It's not like he's looking at it or anything, I always have a shirt on. But I feel like I pull away or try to move his hands whenever they are near or on my scar.

This is normal right? When does that "uncomfortable because you're touching there" feeling go away? I mean, because I'm chubby, I've never really had anyone putting their hands there anyway but I want to feel as comfortable as possible in his arms, y'know?

Stupid Cancer.


  • 15 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I can understand and relate. I had a temp ileostomy for 9 months after surgery and (trust me) there wasn't any touching or looking going on while I had that. I had lapro/robotic surgery so I have the larger bikini scar and then about 6 1"-3" scars and then a huge "2nd belly button" where my stoma for my ilesotomy was. I almost forgot...the scar from my port.
    I am conscious of my scars and think I am more comfortable in the dark still. There are creams you can get to lighten the scars (aloe and mederma). Just an idea - I used it on my port becasue that is what shows pretty regularly.
    Hope this helps. I am sure with time we all become more at ease with our new bodies.
  • Perhaps it just takes time to get used to your scars? I have one giant funny shaped scar on my upper back from removing my primary melanoma and then lots of other small scars around from sentinel lymph node biopsies, removing atypical moles, and lung surgery... I'm a little self conscious when someone sees them the first time but mostly I don't think of them much anymore. I have found people are often curious about my scars but once I explain where I got them they don't take particular notice of them again. Guys don't seem to care much about scars anyway - I'm sure they're much more interested in you!
  • I think it's very normal to be aware of your scars. I dont' have on on my abdomen (except a c-section scar). But I do have a 10 1/2 scar running down the entire length of my left thigh. I feel comfortable around my husband with it but I don't want to wear shorts anymore. I should be proud of my scar and see what I survived but i'm only 3 months out. Not sure what I'll do when it comes time to wear a swimming suit.
  • I have a pretty big scar on the inside of my lower leg. It's beena year, and I did wear shorts this summer, but I covered my scar with band-aids. My surgery left my calf looking really strange. I've finally gotten to the point where I'm slightly okay with it. Hopefully it will get better next year. Here's to time!
  • my CVC scar is kinda ugly. the insertion point is dwarfed by all the scarring from the sutures that held it in place because they were in place for so long, and had to be replaced multiple times.

    I've got a tracheostomy scar that peeks out from the neckline of all of my shirts, too.

    then, there's my shingles scars I got last winter.

    I've got a few. no individual scar is all that big, but the shingles scars go from my back to my chest just under my arm. pretty extensive area there. almost looks like I got burned.

    but in the end, they're just scars.
  • I can empathize with you here. My surgery scar is on the back of my head since it was my brain they worked on...but because of the steroids i had to take to keep my brain from exploding, i gained a ridiculous amount of weight in a very short period of time, and my skin was not too happy about it. I have gigantic stretch marks from about mid thigh all the was to my upper arms. Not "pregnancy" type stretch marks either these are Freddy Krueger's face looking marks that you can see veins and stuff thru. Its pretty gnarly. My husband is very considerate and sensitive to my embarassment, and i am only recently able to undress in front of him (its been over a year) and i almost always keep a shirt on in bed so he doesn't ever have to touch them. I know they aren't the same as surgery scars, but in my mind if i didnt have cancer, i never would have gotten the hideous things. I try to tell myself that they are similar to trophies and i should be proud of my victories, but i can't seem to convince myself. So, between the marks and the huge gut that i cannot seem to get rid of, its maternity swimsuits and sarongs for me. Maybe next year will be better.
  • tattoos and scars

    i don't have any major visible scars from cancer, but i have some very large scars on my chest and legs and lower abdomen from a very bad experience i had in college, as a rule i pretty much do not ever talk about those scars, even though they are very noticeable though most of them only show in "intimate" situations. i only tell people whom i really trust and usually not. even if they ask, it's a bad story and not fun to tell, my opinion is they're better off not knowing.
    I guess with cancer scars it's kind of wrapped up in how you feel about talking about the cancer and who you are talking to. Anyway, i've got lots of tattoos, lots, and i've seen some people with really good work covering scars. Most tattoos won't actually really take on scar tissue itself, but around scar tissue....
    Anyway, i found that people are often distracted from the scars by the tattoos, and the tattoos are mine, my art that i wanted there, not scars that i didn't want. having an art covered body helped me to feel better about myself and my scars. and if people get too nosy about waht the tattoos mean i tell them that i got the tattoos for me, not anyone else and the stories are mine, most people are just very admiring of my artwork.
    i think that if cancer surgery or cancer gave you some body image issues, for me at least, designing and getting tattoos was a poisitve thing for my body image. though i know tattoos are contraindicated after some cancer treatments.
  • Hi, I'm new to the site and leaving my first message. Talking about this stuff is kinda hard for me. But I have a large scar on the side of my right breast and I don't ever mention it to any person I'm intimate with until they ask about it. I haven't reached the point where I'm not embarrassed by the scar. What can I do to be less embarrassed by it?
  • I feel like I am in the same boat, I have an 8" scar right in the middle of my belly and it feels very odd to be more self conscious about that area. It has helped me to find other people with scars. 
  •  I have a scar from my port being put in and I'm always embarrassed about it when I with guys and there asking about it. Totally kills the vibe when there like whats that and I answer a scar from having cancer? We shouldn't be embarrassed its nothing we did wrong.
  • I think if possible, maybe try finding an experienced tattoo artist that can cover your scars. They can transform your scars into art! It's a great way of reclaiming your body after cancer I've heard.
  • I had the same problem. I have a scar from a thyroidectomy and neck dissection, so my scar reaches from the base of my neck to the tip of my right ear. I sometimes catch my boyfriend looking at it, but the problem is when he kisses it. He always kissed my neck before I was diagnosed, but afterwards, I didn't want him kissing it because he was kissing my cancer. Even now, 4 months later, I can't feel the area around my scar and my shoulder. When he kisses it, I can feel it but can't at the same time. Most of the time, I just want to cry. 
  • I have a scar across my neck from a thyroidectomy and a large scar on my stomach from an open colectomy. It's hard dating because I don't want my cancer to be the first topic when I meet a guy, but they always immediately look at my neck. Some will ask and others ignore it, but it's guaranteed to come up at some point. It's not like I'm hiding my cancer. I'm proud I survived, but it's a buzz kill on a first date.
  • I completely understand what you're feeling. I've had a large scar down the center of my abdomen since I was 9 (from chronic pancreatitis, and I now have pancreatic cancer), and I was very self-conscious about it for years. It made me feel sad, it made me feel ugly, it made me feel that something was wrong with me. When I started dating, I was never sure when or whether to mention my illness or my scar. I didn't want to hide anything, but I also didn't want anyone's impression of me to be defined by my illness.

    Honestly, though, no guy I was with ever was really put off by it - it was only my own self-consciousness making situations awkward. When I started dating the man who is now my husband, though, he somehow made me feel proud of my scar. He respected it, and he also clearly didn't think there was anything wrong with it, or with me because of my illness. Luckily for me, he's now my partner and caregiver as I live with stage IV pancreatic cancer. I still struggle a lot with self-consciousness about my changing appearance (weight loss and gain, hair loss, my port, etc.), but he always helps me see these physical marks as beautiful and unique.

    Having someone else embrace my scar so much taught me how important it is for me to embrace it as well. Now that I'm so much more comfortable with my scar, the advice I can offer you is to try being nice to your scar. I know it probably feels so negative now, but maybe if you can touch it with kindness and affection, and even massage it with essential oils or any kind of scar cream you like, it will slowly feel less negative to you. This is a Buddhist technique that has worked very well for me in various ways - touch your body with kindness while thinking grateful thoughts like "Thank you, dear body, for working so hard to stay alive." The more you direct kindness and positivity to your scar, the more comfort and happiness your scar might give back to you. Good luck!

  • AnkaAnka Community Member
    I had my right leg removed but i'm still wearing skirts and shorts. Some people are staring at me but others talk to me and they are always saying that it's amazing how i deal with it and that i could be proud. I agree to the latest comment. It's important that you accept your scars and all the other changes (weight, hair, ...), because that's the moment you'll get a positive charisma and people around you will notice that.

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