I think probably after a good 20 or 30 years or so most surgical scars are pretty much invisible but I am not sure about the emotional ones. We carry those around a lot longer. We may reach acceptance but that doesn't mean we are emotional healed. The wounds run very deep.
This summer marks 36 years since my first cancer diagnosis and ten years from my second. Do I feel healed and am done grieving? I don't know. How are we supposed to know?
I am not talking about thinking back to the "what if's", "what if I didn't get cancer?" We can't undo a cancer diagnosis. Its not the physical scars or the loss of body parts.
Its the "how did cancer change me?" If you think about this, before cancer would you have:
- made friends with the same people who you met through your cancer?
- done the same actions - a cancer walk/ride/retreat?
- become an advocate and called your senator regularly?
This is how cancer changed us emotionally. Is the annual cancer walk that you do part of your healing and grieving where you end up being one of the recognized survivors afterwards? Would you have done that same activity?
I am not sure how well I am explaining my feelings on this but I am not sure we ever get past a cancer diagnosis even if we have reached that 'acceptance' when you went back to that 'new' normal.