Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Making The Best With What You Have

First published in "Stupid Cancer Blog" on July 14, 2011

“You have bone cancer in your pelvis” was less foreboding than my first school dance, where a bigger girl tried “the helicopter” on me: she picked me up and spun me around her head. Though far too shy to make moves, I was a desirable sixteen year old. I had long corkscrew curls (my He-Bro), my own car (a red Chevy Cavalier straight out of Swingers), and a dresser full of single-, double-, and triple-hand-me-downs.

Then I was diagnosed with cancer and my left hip was removed, leaving me with a scar wrapping around half my waist and causing me some really uncomfortable rehab sessions at the pool. Children glared at my thick purple incision as I relearned how to walk. But by a year later, embarrassment was replaced with pride as I strolled shirtless through my University of Virginia dorm. Most hallmates looked away politely. Nobody glared.

After graduating in 2007, I strove for the elusive 8% body fat following too many Ryan Reynolds and Will Smith Netflix rentals. I quickly found that my 15-inch scar could be a tool more useful than any body fat caliber or scale. Without a hip bone, my scar region had acted as a pocket for excess skin and fat accumulation. But as I slimmed, the region regained muscular tightness and lost its curves. I was wearing my fitness success like a scar.

Summer is here. Twenty-somethings are whipping into shape and buying hot new swimsuits, bikinis, and the occasional banana hammock. Me? I have slimmed down once again to flaunt the scar that once needed 50 staples to close. Since I am short, pale, have one leg 2.5 inches longer than the other, and carry the wounds of surviving cancer twice, I am disqualified from being a lady killer. However, I advocate making the best with what you have, and changing what you can to better yourself. Unwilling to wear height lifts or track down A-Rod’s “doctor,” I will use my unique body fat tool to attain a worthy beach body with one addition–my now whitish scar.