Harpenden mum blogs about cancer and scars
- Credit: Archant
A Harpenden cancer survivor is using her experiences of living with scars to help others with similar experiences.
Angela Rake, 43, decided to write a blog about scars, her battle with chronic pain and cancer and how it has changed her life for the better.
She explained: “I grew up with four pretty major scars on the outside of my legs and hips from surgery I had as a baby, and I now have seven major scars and six from keyhole surgery.”
The idea of a blog came from Angela’s scar therapist as a means of empowerment for her and others.
She feels writing the blog has helped her deal with her own pain and put her well-being at the centre of her lifestyle.
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“I wanted to share the relationship I have with my scars and how some of the darkest periods of my life have made me who I am today and may have ultimately saved my life.”
As a child, Angela suffered complications from a congenital hip disorder after being born with dislocated hips and twisted femur bones.
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Her condition required multiple operations in her childhood and late teens.
“These operations were huge. I so badly wanted to be pain free and to be able to walk without fear of my leg giving way I never ever considered the resulting scars.”
Unfortunately the surgeries only provided relief for a few years, as she then needed her worn-out hip sockets replacing.
“All these operations involved opening me in the same place as my childhood scars, extending them and also creating new ones.”
The pilates teacher explained how she used to make up stories about her scars.
“I remember being on a diving boat in Thailand in my early twenties and I told a group of Americans that they were scars from shark bites when I was attacked by a school of sharks when scuba-diving.
“That seems incredibly rude when I think about it now but I got tired of explaining something that seemed as normal as the colour of my hair. I never felt the need to ask them why they were overweight so why pry about my scars?”
But after going through these life-changing operations, she then received a shock diagnosis with colon cancer aged just 41.
After seeking help from her GP for tiredness symptoms and bowel issues, Angela felt she wasn’t listened to.
At one point she was given antibiotics for food poisoning when she presented with blood in her stool.
As a pilates teacher in active wear at just over forty, Angela wonders if the doctor subconsciously used that information to make her diagnosis.
When she went privately, she was booked in for a colonoscopy where a tumour was found.
“I was devastated. I had gone in my gym gear and came out feeling like my whole life had changed. I phoned my husband who said there must be some mistake. My mum went to watch my children so my husband could come and support me.”
By telling her story, she said she has helped other people to make their voices heard as well as experience empathy for people with similar conditions.
The mum-of-three is still having annual checks which have so far been clear.
Angela, of Luton Road, said she would urge people to really pursue medical advice and investigation: “If your inner voice is telling you that something is not right - you need to listen to it. Don’t be embarrassed to go to the doctor with the full picture of symptoms. “My scars are part of my story and symbolise what I have been through and how miraculous the human body is.
“The trauma I went through has opened up a new career direction which is so much more fulfilling than what I was doing before in the city.”
Find out more about her work at www.zingwellness.co.uk