Do You Care If A Celebrity Has Skin Cancer?
I recently heard the actor Hugh Jackman mention on a talk show that he had surgery to remove a skin cancer on his nose. He was on the show to promote a play he was starring in, not to talk about skin cancer. I was typing on the computer when I heard him talking in the background, and was only half listening. But when I heard him talk about having skin cancer surgery and going back to work too soon and having blood drip down his nose because the stitches opened up, I looked away from my computer and paid attention.
Hugh Jackman's diagnosis
He probably spent only one minute describing how he had run around too much on stage soon after the surgery and started bleeding, but I was drawn to the discussion. I expected him to talk more about what was wrong, how he found the cancer, whether it was basal cell, squamous, or melanoma, details of the surgery, and more. I wanted to hear about whether he or the doctor first noticed the spot, how he felt about having skin cancer, was he scared like I was, and what is he going to do to prevent future skin cancers. But he didn’t say much more than that he had had surgery for a skin cancer.
Do we need to hear about their experiences?
Nonetheless, I realized that was the first time I could remember hearing a celebrity or anyone on TV talk about skin cancer. Did it matter to me that he was talking about a cancer and a surgery that I had recently had? The answer is it mattered a little bit. Do I want to hear more about skin cancer in the news? Yes and no. While it would definitely be interesting to hear about a great sunblock or post-surgical care to prevent scarring, or tips on prevention, I’m not sure I want or need to hear celebrities talking about skin cancer. What I do know is that I don’t hear about skin cancer a lot, and more and more of my friends seem to be affected by it, either in terms of having a skin cancer themselves or knowing someone else who has it.
Ideally, I’d like to learn more about early detection, so hearing how anyone finds their skin cancer would be helpful. And seeing photos of what a celebrity looks like with bandages from Mohs surgery on their face might make me a little less self-conscious going out after my own surgery.
Going public with your skin cancer battles
I decided to Google “Hugh Jackman skin cancer” and discovered that Mr. Jackman has been quite public about his battles with skin cancer. In fact, the latest article I found said that he has had six basal cell carcinomas, five on his nose and one on his shoulder. And he does post photos of himself on Instagram with a bandage on his nose. His captions urge people to wear sunscreen. Moreover, I was able to find several articles, ranging from those on People.com to BBC News, which discussed Mr. Jackman’s skin cancers. He also thanks his doctors for his skin checks. That makes for a good PSA – wear sunscreen and see your doctor for skin checks.
For me, knowing that a friend has had skin cancer or any problem makes me sad but also makes me feel more confident that I can deal with it. I also feel better knowing I have someone to ask for advice or comfort, which doesn’t happen when I hear that a celebrity is experiencing what I am going through.
Raising awareness through story sharing
However, there may be some benefits in terms of awareness of the disease that come from someone famous talking about it. Indeed, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the key benefit to a celebrity talking about skin cancer is that it brings much-needed awareness to the disease. Hopefully more people will get full body checks for skin cancer, and take measures to protect themselves in the sun. What do you think?
Soon after hearing Hugh Jackman talk briefly on TV about skin cancer, I read about another celebrity who had skin cancer and now I can’t even remember whom that is. My question to you is, do you care, do you want to hear about celebrities who have skin cancer, and is there any benefit to you of hearing them? Relatedly, do you wish that skin cancer was in the news more often than it currently is, and if so, what should they be talking about and showing the public? Let me know!
When was your last skin check?