Lupe Romero died of complications related to pancreatic cancer on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019.

Editor’s note: Pancreatic cancer survivor Lupe Romero’s scars from her Whipple procedure and related surgeries were a form of empowerment for her and something she was proud of. Although she passed away in February 2019, her legacy lives on and we share her story here in hopes that it inspires others. In it, she states that physical scars from surgery, or even emotional scars left by the difficulties of cancer, should be a testament to the hope and the personal strength that can come from going through cancer.

Before my diagnosis, I was my own worst enemy.

I paid attention to every imperfection. But now, I see my body in a totally different way. I have learned to absolutely love my body.

I used to camouflage my “imperfections.” Now I embrace them, especially my scars.

I’ve had three major surgeries. The first was a failed Whipple in February 2012, where a chevron incision was made in the majority part of my abdomen, along with drainage sites. I had a port placed in that same year.

In January 2013, I had a full Whipple where I was cut open in the original surgical site a year earlier, with an additional drainage area.

In March 2017, I had to have a bypass due to changes from the Whipple. I was cut open at the same surgical area but only on one side this time. The doctors and I were pleasantly surprised at my recovery time from the surgeries and the tolerance to chemo, initially.

I owe the strong recovery and excellent tolerance to chemo to being in great physical shape prior to my diagnosis.

And I LOVE my scars. They are my war wounds.

I’ve fought tough battles and wear my scars as badges of honor, strength and hope. On a daily basis, I very gently run my fingers over my scars and feel gratitude for them.

I belong to a Whipple Warrior (social media) group where we all agree that whenever we share our journey with a total stranger, we cannot resist showing off our scars.

We have earned the right, and we wear them proudly with honor.

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