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Kelly Chen – Parting Ways With My Birthmark

Dive: Break Diver - Surgery Overcomer
Description: Overcame surgery
Level: Level 1
Level Requirements: Survived 1 surgery
Certified On: Jul 23, 2020

Editor’s Note: On all dive certifications, we try to edit the writing as little as possible to preserve authenticity, personality, and writing style. We typically fix spelling errors, but minimally modify grammar and sentence structure (just enough to ensure readability).

Kelly Chen

Name: Kelly Chen Break Diving Level: Recruit Number of Certified Dives: 4 From: United States In: United States

1. When and Why Did You Decide to Pursue This Dive At This Level? What was your inspiration and motivation?

I was born with a large, brown, hairy birthmark shaped in an ellipse on my left forearm. The birthmark was a unique part of me. I was told it was a gift from God, and my family could clearly identify me if I were lost. This birthmark may have looked ugly and strange to others, but to me, it was personal. 

In school, kids would often ask me what it was on my arm. I would explain to them that it was a birthmark, and that I was born with it. I told them that there was no need to be ashamed about it, since every part of you tells a story. Maybe there isn’t a story now, but there will be one in the future. All in all, we were partners for 15 years, and we got along so well, although it did grow as I aged. But it did remain the same proportion. 

However, the size and hairiness of the birthmark concerned my parents, so we visited doctors in China. They all said it looked ok, and found that it was not related to skin cancer. Unfortunately, my dad wanted to remove it in a non-surgical way at first using apple cider vinegar. He told me to apply the vinegar on my birthmark every day with cotton patched over it until it turns into a scab and falls off. In the end, it fell off, but it left my skin with a plastic-like texture and some undistributed pigmentation. 

Finally, I had to do a surgery to surgically remove the birthmark and make sure it had nothing to do with skin cancer. The operation was performed on February 13, 2019. I was partially numbed during the surgery. 

Afterward, I said good-bye to my birthmark for the last time, and it was sent to the lab to get tested. The result turned out to be clear, and there were no symptoms of skin cancer. Now I have a scar across my forearm, but it’s slowly getting less visible. I will always remember that this scar has a story that’s unique to me.

2. How Long Did It Take For You To Accomplish This Dive At This Level From The Day You Decided To Pursue It, And Why Did It Take That Long?

Ever since I was little, my parents would discuss whether we should keep the birthmark or not. We visited doctors to see their advice. They said the birthmark looked healthy, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with skin cancer, just a normal mole, but bigger with hair. That was true until my dad decided to use apple cider vinegar to remove the birthmark naturally, which made my birthmark look unhealthy. Eventually, that caused us to determine that we had to remove it surgically. 

First, we had to go to the hospital to let the doctors take a look at it and see if it was urgent or not. My result turned out to be necessary because of the look and texture of the skin and I was quickly put onto the waiting list. Soon, we got a call from the hospital to schedule a date. Then, I did my surgery on February 13, 2019. 

After two weeks, I had to revisit the hospital to get my stitches removed. All of this was done within a month, and I would say it proceeded very quickly.

3. What Was The Hardest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

The hardest part is overcoming the fear of the unknown. Especially when it’s your first surgery, worries about the pain, healing, and the cost is overwhelming. Overcoming this mental fear is scary, but always remember that the doctors are there, and they are there to help you. All others can come second, but your health and safety come first. Before you make any impulsive decision, consider others’ advice, and take some useful ones, listen to the ones with experience, and don’t leave any regrets on the table.

4. What Was The Easiest Part About Achieving This Particular Dive Level?

The easiest part is that I didn’t need to ask for surgery. It just became necessary for me when I needed it.

5. What Is Your Advice For Someone Who Is Pursuing This Dive And Level?

The most important advice I would give is to not underestimate the importance of surgery aftercare. For me, I was told to apply vaseline over the stitches with a Q-tip every day and not to be active with my left arm, so the muscles wouldn’t stretch. 

After the stitches were taken off, I had to lightly rub over the skin to help heal and flatten the surface. Trust me, your doctor knows better than you. Many complications can occur because the patient is pushing too hard or being too active after surgery. If you want your scar to appear less visible and heal properly, you should definitely follow the doctor’s instructions.

Secondly, with similar, higher beauty standards now, many like to consider cosmetic surgery, to follow the trend, to look more attractive, or to fit in. There’s absolutely no need: the authentic, natural self is the most beautiful thing. Have you realized? With makeup and camera filters, influencers and celebrities all look similar, like beauty clones! 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do makeup, or you should never do plastic surgery. It’s your choice, but think hard before you act: is it what you need, what you want? Are you doing it just to follow some trend or gain popularity? Being yourself is the most important and distinctive quality!

6. What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive At This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them? Please Include Relevant Weblinks, If Applicable.

Day Before Surgery Checklist: This is a great resource for people before doing their first surgery. It is a checklist and walk-through of how most surgeries will proceed. Check with your doctor to see if all of these apply in your situation.

Resource 1: Break Diving - Get support for your surgeries here!

Resource 2: Day Before Surgery - Here's a helpful checklist.

Resource 3: -

Resource 4: -

Resource 5: -

7. Tell Us A Story Of One Of Your Adventures While Pursuing This Dive (At This Level).

During the operation, my arm was partially numbed. The nurse would apply numbing cream over the skin, and then, with a vibrator distracting you from the pain, the doctor would inject anesthesia to a specific part of the arm. I was conscious throughout the surgery. The surgeon was very friendly and consistently asked me about my feelings. I could see my arm during the operation, and I was not disgusted by it, but instead fascinated by the different layers of the skin.

The procedure went on for about 40 minutes. It’s the weirdest sensation when the surgeon is suturing the skin. I could feel the skin pulling and the thread poking through the skin but no pain. 

After the surgery, I got a last look at the birthmark in the container. You could see the layers of the skin, including fats. The incision was longer than I expected. Instead of a straight line, it was a longer “S” line. It was done, so that when it healed, my arm could function as before without feeling the muscle stretching. During this process, I felt comfortable, and I’m very thankful for the surgeons!

P.S. I admire doctors so much. It was my dream career when I was little!

8. What Evidence Did You Submit to Prove You Met the Requirements for This Dive and Level?

Here are pictures of my birthmark and post-surgery healing photos.

9. Will You Be Pursuing The Next Level For This Dive? If Yes, Why? If Not, Why Not?

I hope I will not need to pursue the next dive level. It’s best to protect myself from getting severely injured and overcoming resulting surgeries.

10. What is the Break Diver's Creed?

No Rules. No Excuses. No Regrets.

Certificate photo:

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Kelly Chen is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: Break Diver - Surgery Overcomer - Level 1. Congratulations ! Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

Certificate number: 53

The author above wrote this WYSEguidance post as one of the certification requirements to become certified by Break Diving, Inc. for a dive completed. Would you also like to find greater success, happiness, and friendship, and make genuine supportive connections with others around the world pursuing your same dreams? Come join us at Break Diving and soon your story will be the next one you read about on this site!

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