What happens when as part of the arts industry, you are faced (no pun intended), with the possibility of facial surgery due to skin cancer? Well in my case, you write about it a year later. The Cancer Research UK #OwnYourTone campaign, has inspired me to write about this topic, that as a performer and a human being, I’ve realised I needed to share, to explore the idea of ‘beauty’.
Just over a year ago, I was awaiting the result of a biopsy on the side of my right cheek, where I had a small raised red area that which been there for a number of years. My dermatological consultant decided, as I had noticed it was looking a more pronounced colour in recent times, the best course of action was to do a biopsy, as it could be a basal cell carcinoma. This is a usually non-invasive type of skin cancer, but would need surgery if it was the case.
Will I be scarred?
Will my face change?
Will it have an effect on my performing career?
Will I ever be thought of as attractive again?
To my great relief, a year ago this month, I was told that what I have is a pigmented nevi, so it was benign. This did not stop me in the intervening time, between biopsy and results, panicking about the impact on my life, especially as a performer, as the questions above highlight. But why are we so obsessed, even without realising it, with our appearance?
The outer shell is undoubtedly what people see first, when meeting us. It’s what attracts us to our partners, as much as we try to protest we fell solely for personality, be honest, it’s not. When we are cast in a show or play, unfortunately there is a percentage that depends on our ‘look’. As someone who believes in equality and diversity in the arts industry, part of me is pained to admit it, but I’m stating the truth.
To worry my career would be over more than concerned about my health is shallow, yes, but reflects our society. Even as a writer, where my plays and articles should be paramount, I’m under no illusion that looks are still judged unfortunately, by those we meet and I can not change that. I wanted, by writing this article to show just what it’s like as a performer, when faced with this life changing scenario.
Love the skin you’re in is my message. We can change the arts industry and its attitude towards looks, by changing our personal attitude towards it. Ok, you may be thinking it’s ok for her she hasn’t had to face any sort of major surgery on her face. This is true, but I believe if we, as human beings, learn to love the skin we are in, we can primarily change the pressures we put upon ourselves. If I had to have had surgery, it would not have changed me as a person or performer, no matter how big or small the scar, I would have still been just me.