(Ongoing): Survival

2003: 7am on a Sunday morning with shooting pain in my lower left abdomen. By noon I was in the hospital, admitted at 10 pm. For three days no one could determine what was wrong with me. After an array of failed antibiotics, the surgeons had no choice but to ‘go in and have a look around’.

My left ovary had twisted on its blood supply and died some months ago. The new pain was caused by its move to a more comfortable location: between my uterus and bladder, canceling bodily functions left and right.

I woke up from a standard recon mission minus my left ovary and fallopian tube. I would have been dead in a few hours, as my bladder was about to burst from the blockage of that ovarian torsion. That ‘look around’ saved my life.

What scares me isn’t the loss of an ovary, even years later. It is the fact that I was in perfect health and had gone through my second operation in one year. I am now without half of my reproductive system. How can I be confident in my health when an organ has died for no reason? How do I combat something that has no cause? I feel as if my body is failing me and I am helpless against it.

******

This series grew from a need to deal with my scars and how I felt about them. I was afraid to look at them, afraid of what people would think of them, saddened by what they made me think of myself. It wasn’t until years and a lot of personal healing later that I realized I had grown to love them and be thankful. There is always something worse that could happen. I’m still alive. My scars are my proof.

What began as my personal therapy project to try to find the beauty in something I was self-conscious of grew into a mission to show the figurative and literal beauty of scars to the world.

The friends and stories in this series are truly remarkable. I thank my subjects for allowing me to photograph them, hear their stories and share my own.

Even if they don’t define us, they are a part of us. They build character. Make us stronger. Often, they are the reason we are still alive. They are amazing and beautiful.

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