When our 4-year-old daughter was diagnosed with a half-pound Wilms tumor on her kidney, one of our first questions was, “When can you get it out?”
Two days later, the skilled pediatric surgery team at UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital performed a seven-hour surgery and successfully removed the tumor and her kidney. The procedure left a large scar below her belly button from one side of her stomach to the other.
Now, 19 months removed from her procedure, she is cancer free and the scar is surprisingly faint. In fact, the inch-long scar on her chest from her port-a-cath (which was used for chemotherapy) is more noticeable than the one on her abdomen.
When I was introduced to the second phase of UF Health’s branding campaign, No Two Alike, it hit home. Four patients, who received life-saving care here, share their stories and discuss what their scars (some big, some barely noticeable) mean to them. Here’s what they said:
“When I think about my scar I think I’m one of a kind.”
“When I see my scar, I think survival.”
“My scar shows how brave I am.”
“It’s amazing. I don’t even have a scar.”
This got me to thinking: “I wonder what my daughter, now 5, thinks about her scars?” So I asked her one day after school: “When you see your scars, what do you think about?” Her one-word answer was, “Dessert.”
After her surgery, our daughter began radiation and chemotherapy. As parents, one of our missions was to keep weight on her … by any means necessary. This meant she ate dessert every night. Chemotherapy does a number on your taste buds, so her preference changed weekly: honey buns, s’mores, peanut butter milkshakes, donuts with sprinkles. Apparently this is an experience a child doesn’t soon forget. A scar can literally mean anything to anyone; just ask my daughter.
For me, her scars make me think about something different each time: how resilient she is, how minor day-to-day problems often are, how lucky we were to have access to great care, and most importantly, how precious life is.
If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend that you view UF Health’s new commercials and learn more about what our patients’ scars mean to them. Visit bridge.UFHealth/no-two-alike — where you’ll find samples of radio and print ads, find answers to FAQs and see behind-the-scenes photos — and check out our public site, NoTwoAlike.org — which features more information about the patients and care teams featured in the commercials, and will be continually updated to include additional stories.
UF Health Communications