Yvonne and Jarra share their memories

Scar Portraits

by David Woolfall

Two new volunteers who kindly gave me their time recently and shared their memories for my long term project on memory and scars (beautiful scars)

I'm humbled by their courage, thank you.




I was born with Tricuspid Valve Artesia, a quite complex type of congenital heart defect.   Growing up with only half a working heart isn’t always easy, as your stamina isn’t as good as it should be. But being reliant on other people’s help actually made me much more independent and strong willed than I would have been if I were born with a healthy heart.

The scars resulting from 2 open heart surgeries never really bothered me, but rather gave me a sense of empowerment and always remind me of the struggles I managed to overcome.

I could easily deal with these scars, but the scar that really bothers me is the one on my neck, which is a result of hardened tissue, which had to me removed when I was around 7 years old. The hardened tissue prevented my neck from growing, but sadly the operation left a big, zigzag shaped scar. When I was 15, I underwent plastic surgery for this and it now looks much more subtle and the neck is shaped more naturally. For reasons I can’t explain, skin heals very differently and unfortunately the scar on my neck never became as nude coloured as the ones on my chest even though it had much more time to heal.

Having to deal with a very visible scar has been very difficult for me when I was a teenager and I always covered it up with a scarf. It’s only been since I was around 25 that I stopped wearing scarves so much and stopped caring less about what other people might think. It’s probably me who sees the scar the most, but sometimes that’s the only thing you see in the mirror.

Undergoing numerous surgeries brought me a lot closer with my family and friends. But most of all, these experiences showed me how valuable time is and to really appreciate your body and health. It gave me a great sense of optimism and tenacity because you don’t know how strong you are, until your only choice is to be strong.

Memory and scars


I have a scar on my chin which will always remind me of one of the times in my life when I was at my lowest.

I had drank so much I fell asleep while cycling and although hurt and bleeding still managed to order cigarettes at a late night store.

I was struggling with feelings of despair, depression and helplessness because I could not accept being gay growing up in Catholic Ireland where I couldn’t find people like me.

I am older now, have sought help through therapy and am finally finding the real me. My scar is not very visible but to me it’s a reminder that the worst is behind me. I love my life!