So I wanted to touch base on the emotional and psychological effects of living with your different face after facial cancer.
Facial cancer is probably the least known cancers. People say to me all the time that they had no idea you could get cancer in your face, they simply haven’t seen anyone else or know anybody that has. Cancer Research states that between 2015 to 2017 there was 12,238 cases of head and neck cancers, which begs the question where we all?
The answer is simple. The effects of facial cancer can cause significant scars or in extreme examples disfigurement (not a word I like to use but it is a reality) but no matter how “severe” you should never compare, because ANY scars can cause anxiety, depression, self loathing. Many isolate themselves to be safe from the staring, the audible whispers, the pointing, the inappropriate questions. The basic functions of social interaction can become almost impossible.
Some of the luckier people hide in plain sight by wearing scarfs, thick rimmed or shaded glasses, growing hair longer on one side to cover up or in my case my eyepatch.
I am quite comfortable wearing my eyepatch in public places, and for the most part I forget I even have it on until people start to stare, nudge their friends to have a look or blatantly make pirate noises and that’s when I feel it. The disappointment in other humans, the anxiety of knowing that I am being made fun of. It is hard.
Unfortunately we sadly still live in a world where anything that is different is a justification to point it out. There are words to describe this: ignorance, discrimination, bullying.
But the fight back is happening for people with physical and facial differences. The charity Changing Faces are pioneers of challenging the attitudes of people and the media towards people with different faces, as well as providing support for the individual. The ambition of a scar free world is within our grasp by the incredible work by the research charity The Scar Free Foundation which will change the face of the world.
The future is in our hands, it is up-to all of us to take a positive step forward. I found this quote which works brilliantly…
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin