Over to you
Still, I reminded myself I had so much to be happy about. I had a whole future ahead of me now – as Mrs Summerfield. When we’d discussed my treatment, I’d told my consultant my wedding plans.
He’d explained he would take cartilage from my ear and reconstruct my nose and lip.
‘You’ll be the prettiest bride on the beach,’ he’d promised.
It was hard to believe. Looking in the mirror now, I barely recognised myself.
A gaping hole where my nose once was... My missing septum made me look like I’d been using drugs for years.
For two weeks, I stayed indoors, fearful of what people would say when they saw me.
Around three weeks later, I had the reconstruction. The surgeon took skin from the side of my face and put it over my top lip. Built me a new septum
with cartilage taken from my right ear.
I was in theatre for over seven hours. And when I woke up, my consultant had good news.
‘It went better than expected,’ he smiled.
Next day, I was too scared to look in the mirror, but a Macmillan nurse encouraged me.
‘Let’s do it together,’ she soothed.
Bringing the mirror up to my face, I saw I was bruised black and blue. Tubes in my nose made me look like a pig with a giant snout, and stitching snaked from nose to lip.
I was horrified. Hoping it would fade, I was allowed home the next day.
Two weeks on, the tubes were removed, but my wounds were still visible.
Suffering with anxiety, I had to push myself to go out. I was sure everyone was staring.
Soon after, standing in the queue in the post office, I felt so selfconscious.
‘Look at her nose!’ a little girl said, horrified.
I knew she was just a child, didn’t understand how much her words hurt. But, thankfully, I didn’t need chemo or radiotherapy. And as my scars slowly healed, my thoughts turned to my wedding day. I booked a consultation with a make-up artist who’d been recommended to me by acidattack victim Katie Piper. Thanks to the charity Maggie’s Centres, I learned how to cleverly cover up my scars. As I practised at home, my confidence began to soar. Then I found the perfect ivory lace and satin gown in a bridal shop at a local hospice.
Last November, I married my beloved Colin in an intimate beach ceremony. Walking across the sand, I felt every inch the perfect bride.
There was no need for a veil. I had nothing I wanted to hide. I felt beautiful for the first time in a long time.
And I could see by the look on his face, Colin thought so, too.
As the sun shone down, I smiled for photos, knowing I’d cherish them for decades.
Unfortunately, in January, the skin graft failed, and I’m now waiting for more surgery.
But I’m determined to get through it. Cancer has taught me to treasure the special people in my life, and I count my blessings every day.
I’m looking forward to the rest of my life – with my husband by my side.
lTracy found the free practical, emotional and social support from Maggie’s Centres invaluable. Visit maggiescentres.org
Here’s to us – and the future
I found the perfect gown
Now I’m waiting for more surgery...