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Taking Your Scars International

Friday, August 22, 2014

By Paul Willgoss

One of the delights of the international GUCH/ACHD community is that in this age of social media an idea can be communicated from New Zealand to Norway, with sidesteps to the U.K. and Finland, in the blink of an eye.

The New Zealand congenital heart charity Heart Kids NZ launched a campaign to highlight the facts that many of us have scars, some more than one and that it is fine to show them off.

Why? It started with a mate of mine, a TGA-er who has had a transplant, with this:

“Are you up to the challenge? Get your scars out and show them to the world in support of Kiwi heart kids, young and old. 450 kids have open heart surgery in NZ every single year. Congenital heart disease is a hidden disease, concealed by the shirt, but never cured, ever.

Your Challenge is to show your scar to the world.

Now, I’m used to getting my kit off or wearing outlandish costumes for charity, but the responses of some to myself and others showing our scars off has been interesting. Some have happily shared their photos (not all done in artistic black and white!), others have talked about how hideous their scars are and refused to take part, and some of the bravest have shared their stories of being bullied because of their scars as children. I don’t often use the word brave, mainly because it’s overused, but to do something that brings back bad memories takes genuine courage.

There are thousands of reasons not to do something, and any one of us (a teacher from Norway, an HR professional from Finland, a government scientist from England or a territory manager / protagonist from New Zealand) could cite most of them – but we didn’t.

So I have a plea – we are an international community and by now there’s plenty involved in the congenital heart community who have seen my scar, but let us turn the unusual, the brave, and the courageous, into the new normal.

Go on – fill Facebook with pictures of our scars. Use the hashtags #scarchallenge and #badgeofthebrave, and nominate five friends to do the same. For GUCHs/ACHDers who never have had an operation, you get to choose – look at our scars and for one day and one photo draw it on.

You may never know who you inspire, you may never know if you have made someone else more comfortable in their skin but you will have at least made me (and a few of my friends) look slightly less unusual on Facebook…

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The contents of this blog are presented for informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional advice. Always consult your physicians with your questions and concerns.

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