My large stomach scar is the culmination of a chain of events beginning in 2006 when I was diagnosed with leukemia.
Within days I was admitted to Lewisham Hospital to undergo my first dose of chemotherapy.
This knocked back only 95% of the leukemia, so in 2007 I was admitted again for a second chemotherapy treatment.
These treatments involved breaking down the neutrophils and meant isolation in hospital for nearly two weeks to prevent any infections.
Although that appeared to completely eradicate the leukemia, a stem cell transplant was recommended to prevent any recurrence.
Thus started a search for a suitable matching donor, which was eventually successful after several months, an the stem cell (sometimes called bone marrow) transplant was scheduled for January 2008.
After this all was satisfactory, but regular checks showed that the grafting of the new cells was not 100%, so a top up of cells was recommended.
As a result, in July 2008, the common side effect of graft versus host (GVHD) set in with a vengeance, with two different sets of blood cells fighting each other and affecting different organs.
This meant hospitalisation and aggressive treatment, including steroids to overcome the rejection. One side effect is a thinning of the skin, butt also of the walls of the bowel, which resulted in a hole in the bowel, requiring anemergency bowel resection, complicated by this happening at the weekend and being misdiagnosed by a junior doctor.
This was stage one of the saga of the scar.
After the operation, recovery was long, but in the end a hernia appeared on the site of the scar.
So operation number two was performed to correct the hernia, and as usual a synthetic mesh was used to strengthen the abdominal wall.
My body revolted against the foreign material, and pieces of mesh kept emerging, needing to be removed.
This site refused to heal properly, so a new operation was performed to remove all of the synthetic mesh an replace it with one made of animal tissue.
This massive scar did not heal properly and became necrotic, necessitating surgical debridement, leaving a massive open wound.
This wound eventually grew smaller after several months of a vacuum dressing, leaving the rather large unsightly abdominal scar.
This has made me very self conscious and unwilling to go anywhere such as swimming, but maybe by exposing it to photography might act as a liberation of sorts and eventually put the long saga firmly in the past.