Princess Eugenie has told a young cancer fighter to show off her scars with pride after bravely revealing her own.
Darcy Shaw was left with scars on her neck and chest after surgery for skin cancer and was surprised with a video call from Princess Eugenie and her sister, Beatrice.
The young royals held a video call last week with a group of young people supported by the Teenage Cancer Trust – and Eugenie had an inspirational message for Darcy.
The Queen’s granddaughter has never tried her hide her own scar, which is about the size of a piece of string and runs all the way down her spine.
She was diagnosed with scoliosis – curvature of the spine – when she was 11 and underwent eight hours of major surgery.
Surgeons placed eight-inch titanium rods into Eugenie’s spine and screws at the top of her neck and she spent three days in intensive care and a further week in hospital.
She was in a wheelchair for a time afterwards but was quickly back walking again thanks to the incredible medical team at London’s Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, who she regularly praises.
Eugenie even chose her wedding dress to show off her scar as a mark of respect and thanks for the medical staff who had treated her.
Seeing the images of the princess on her big day, with her scar proudly on show, was a turning point for Darcy as she struggled to come to terms with the marks on her own body.
She explained: “I’ve always struggled with my body image, way before I got diagnosed with cancer, and anxiety and mental health issues. I was quite recently diagnosed – in February – and now have a scar on my neck and chest from surgery. And I thought to myself ‘well, everything is going to plummet’.
“But, actually, the complete opposite has happened, and I put that entirely down to all the support I’ve had through the lockdown.
“I’ve attended body image workshops with Teenage Cancer Trust, and it’s boosted my confidence, I can’t believe it.
“I saw pictures of you in your wedding dress and the scar, and it inspired me that you were so open about it and wanted to have it on show.”
Eugenie, who donned a pair of flower-shaped sunglasses she had brought in case any of the patients wanted to play bingo, during the call was delighted to hear she had helped.
She said: “Woo – I love hearing that, Darcy. I have a big old scar down my back and I’m proud to show it off.”
Eugenie proudly shared a picture of her scar earlier this week to mark International Scoliosis Awareness Day.
The caption read: “Today is International Scoliosis Awareness Day.
“I just wanted to share my scar and encourage anyone out there who’s gone through something similar to share theirs with me.
“Let’s be proud of our scars! I’d love to repost any of your images on my stories so please tag me and I will share.”
Darcy is now planning to start a new job as a teacher later this year.
Eugenie and Beatrice are honorary patrons of the Teenage Cancer Trust and they chatted to six young people from across the North West, who are helped by the charity’s specialist nurses and youth support co-ordinators based at the Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester.
The group told the royal sisters about some of the issues they have faced during the pandemic such as shielding, appointment delays and loved ones not being able to visit them in hospital, and the help they have received from the charity.
Teenage Cancer Trust chief executive Kate Collins, who was part of the video call, praised the princesses for their “heartfelt” support.
She said of the young people: “Sadly, for them and others, this isn’t their first experience of shielding and the isolation this can bring. Young people facing cancer often feel isolated from their friends and peers, who are moving on with their lives.
“Put a global pandemic on top of that, and it is essential that Teenage Cancer Trust is able to work even harder to make sure young people don’t face cancer alone.”