Dawn Shaw

@dawn-shaw | contributor
Author and professional speaker Dawn Shaw understands adversity. She was born with a rare tumor, the removal of which left her face half-paralyzed. She has written three books — her memoir, “Facing Up to It,” and a guide to developing resilience called “Friending the Mirror, ” and “Facial Shift, Adjusting to an Altered Appearance” for people who suddenly find themselves with a changed face. She hosts a webinar series also called “Friending the Mirror,” which focuses on appearance-related issues. Dawn also raises Icelandic horses and has a passion for live music.
Dawn Shaw

Response to 'Wonder Woman's' Dr. Maru, Villians and Facial Scarring

Hollywood’s best villains are driven by their story, but Dr. Maru’s story (aka Dr. Poison in the new “Wonder Woman” movie) goes untold, as if her facial disfigurement explains it all. As someone with a facial difference (I grew up with a face half-paralyzed by the removal of a tumor shortly after birth), I am baffled by the treatment of the villain Dr. Maru, aka Dr. Poison in the recent “Wonder Woman” movie. We know something is up with her face because she wears a prosthetic. At the end of the film, we see her mask blown off and her scarred face revealed…but that’s it. As viewers, we have no back story to explain it except a passing mention of perhaps some sort of lab accident. When Dr. Maru’s face is revealed, instead of crushing her as she has the other supreme villains, Diana (“Wonder Woman”) spares her out of what seemed to me to be pity. When I watched it, it felt to me like the tragedy of her facial scarring was seen as an explanation and excuse for her heinous acts, as in, “Oh, look at her face! Surely that is punishment enough!” That being said, lots of people with facial differences (or to use a term I despise, “disfigurements”) are able to adjust. If someone is having a harder time adjusting, they might isolate themselves. But regardless, the overwhelming majority of us generally don’t turn evil and homicidal just because our face is scarred, paralyzed or altered in some undesirable way. I get that it’s World War I. People with facial differences confront many challenges in modern day society. I have no idea how it would have been for a woman with a facial difference in the early 1900s. I can make a few guesses as to what motivated Dr. Maru’s destructive choices. Perhaps she worked for General Ludendorff because he was nice to her, regardless of his motives. Perhaps she delighted in taking revenge because of how she’d been treated by men after her accident. Or perhaps she was so obsessed with the success of her work that people became dehumanized to her — in which case, her appearance would be irrelevant. Maybe it’s a combination of these. Or none. I don’t know, because the narrative doesn’t tell me. And what did happen to her face? (To echo a question I hear often in my presence.) There is nothing in the movie to explain that type of scarring, which seemed to be created by CG rather than prosthetics or makeup. Hollywood does not have to use facial scarring as a motivator for villainy. Hollywood’s best villains are often driven by their story — by believing what they are doing is right. Ironically, in the same film Ares is an excellent example of a villain. Yet maiming the would-be villain seems to have become a standard Hollywood shortcut. To me it’s as if someone said, “We don’t have time to tell Dr. Maru’s story, so we’ll just disfigure her face. That will explain everything.” No. No, it won’t. Or more to the point: No, no it shouldn’t. Follow this journey on Facing Up to It. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Top photo source: “Wonder Woman” movie trailer on YouTube

Dawn Shaw

Finding My 'Tribe' at a Camp for People With Facial Differences

Who is your tribe? What group can you identify and connect with in a unique way? We all want to belong. We seek people with whom we have things in common. But sometimes, finding your tribe pushes you outside of your comfort zone. Normally, I am not shy about trying new things and meeting new people, but when it came to attending AboutFace’s Camp Trailblazers near Vancouver, BC in May 2015, I was nervous. For the first time in my life, I would be part of an assembly of people most of whom had one thing in common: facial difference. Camp Trailblazers is a family camp organized by AboutFace, a non-profit organization based in Canada that provides support and community for people with facial differences across the U.S. and Canada. The camp is designed around youth and their families, so not only do young people with facial differences attend, but parents and siblings as well. Even though the focus is on youth, because there is nothing else like it in the region, a number of adults with facial differences opt to attend as well. Attending this event was forcing me outside of my comfort zone, and that was, well, uncomfortable. I had reservations about going. But why? I’ve had partial facial paralysis all my life, due to a removal of a tumor shortly after birth. One might think I’d be delighted to meet others who share not only what I’ve been through, but also what I live with on a daily basis. It’s not that I’m afraid to meet other people with facial differences. I’ve driven miles, even hours, out of my way during vacation trips to meet up with individuals I’d developed connections with online, but usually only one or two at a time. There was something daunting about meeting an entire group all at once. I’ve been known to drive miles, and hours, to meet in person people I’ve become acquainted with online, such as Pauline and David. When it came right down to it, I was afraid of losing my uniqueness. For most of my life, I didn’t have opportunities to  interact with other people that have facial differences. Because I have a degree of confidence and acceptance regarding my appearance, I am comfortable with the fact that my face helps me to stand out. I like to be unique and don’t mind being recognizable. In fact, I use it to my advantage when I can. It wasn’t until I became active on social media that I discovered how many others with facial differences are out there. In a whole group of people with nonstandard visages, however, I feared that one aspect of my uniqueness would be taken away. I was also concerned that I would experience role-reversal. Instead of having people stare at me, I’d be trying hard not to stare at everyone else! What solidified my decision to attend was that there were two people attending whom I knew and considered friends. Secondly, because the camp was focused around young people, it was an opportunity for me to join other adult attendees in demonstrating that someone with a significant facial difference can still live an interesting, productive, and happy life. Upon arrival, I initially stuck with the people I knew. But once we all started to interact, I felt increasingly like I was coming home. An incredible sense of community was created, and instead of being among strangers, I began to feel like I had found my tribe. There really is no replacement for people who have shared similar experiences — the hospital stays, the way we are looked at and treated by others, and our relationship challenges to name a few. Stepping out of my comfort zone wasn’t such a bad thing. In fact, it turned out very well. By the end of the weekend, I had partaken in some wonderful and insightful conversations, fun activities, and most importantly, I’d made new friends. I also knew I would never feel awkward going to a similar event in the future, even if I didn’t know anyone else there. Who is your tribe? If you haven’t already, don’t be afraid to go find them. The rewards, and sense of community, are worth the effort. Follow this journey on Facing Up to It. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Dawn Shaw

Being Seen and Heard as a Person With a Facial Difference

I feel very lucky. From a very young age, my parents took me out into the world. We traveled, going to national parks, theme parks, restaurants… all kinds of public places. This gave me a familiarity with what it’s like to have a facial difference in public and instilled a sense of confidence. I learned I could go anywhere and do anything without worrying about the reactions of others. I’m not sure how this translated into a gift for public speaking, but I’m sure glad it’s a fear I do not have. People with differences need to have a voice. We need to stand up for ourselves, and not allow others to speak for us. Elementary school students, middle school students, high school students, and adults will benefit from our stories surrounding the importance of embracing differences, resilience, and developing our own identity without worrying what others think. This past November, I was honored to be given the opportunity to exercise my voice by presenting a TEDx talk for the Sno-Isle Library TEDx event. My 15 minute talk, “Beauty Is an Inside Job” explores the true meaning of “being attractive.” Those of us with “differences” need to be seen. The more we do so, the more commonplace our differences will be and the less adverse reactions we will get. Like it or not, we are the educators. No one can put down the stereotypes and dispel the assumptions better than we can. Regardless of what you look like or what challenges you face, no one deserves the power to control the choices you make about how you live your life. Don’t give people that power. It’s your life. Own it. Take control of it. Be seen. Be heard. And by all means, have fun! We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Dawn Shaw

Traveling With a Facial Difference

In my experience, traveling with a facial difference isn’t much different from traveling without one. I enjoy traveling. In fact, my husband Ian and I recently returned from an epic trip to South Africa. Good thing I am not afraid to show this face to the world. Petting an elephant. However, I understand that some people with physical differences are afraid. Afraid of sideways glances, comments, stares, assumptions, questions… afraid of unwanted attention. I am not immune to these things — they do happen to me on occasion — but I have chosen not to allow them to interfere with my ability to experience and enjoy what life has to offer. My facial paralysis has been with me all my life. Perhaps this gives me an advantage, as I know nothing different. Another advantage may be that I am no stranger to traveling. I went with my parents and siblings on many a family trip from a very young age — trips that criss-crossed these great United States. This early exposure got me used to the reactions of others, and the fact that my parents didn’t hide me away taught me I had value. I was also instilled with a sense of independence. When I was 19, I spent a university term visiting Italy and England as part of a College of Fine and Performing Arts tour, which required participating students to visit art museums and attend theatrical and musical performances. After that life-changing experience, armed with a BritRail pass, I took off completely on my own for two weeks to northern England and Scotland before returning home. During my European travels, I have no recollection of being treated any differently because of my appearance. In fact, I remember that fellow travelers were very helpful, especially when I was on my own. Aneesa, me and Vanessa at Lesedi Village outside of Johannesburg. Nowadays, whenever I travel, if the opportunity lends itself, I’ll meet people in person I would otherwise have only known via the internet or social media. For me, it is often people from the facial difference community. In this digital age, there is still no substitute for a handshake, an in-person conversation, and a hug. The South Africa trip was no exception. I was honored that James Partridge of Changing Faces took the time to meet us at the airport in Heathrow during our long layover. In Johannesburg, I had the pleasure of meeting social media friends Vanessa and Aneesa. Did my different face receive unwanted attention during this journey? Sure. Since my face is now tied in with my profession, it is possible that I am more aware of being noticed than I used to be. I got a few looks from the group of men in a large party seated near us in a restaurant in Cape Town. But very quickly, their own topics of conversation became much more interesting than my appearance. Admittedly, we were just as curious about them — what would bring this rather large group of middle-aged and older men together? I eventually asked one of them, and was informed they were a group of opera lovers who met monthly. They had selected the restaurant for this particular meeting because they were marking a special occasion. There was the woman at Zulu Nyala, the private reserve/resort where we did our safari excursions, who took a good long look at me, even after I’d noticed her. I thought maybe she was European and it might be a cultural thing to not have the sort of boundaries that would cause her to look away after I’d caught her staring. However, I found out the next day that she was American! And there was the guy wearing a kilt who asked Ian about my face while I was shopping in the gift shop. When Ian told me this, saying the guy was a retired anesthesiologist citing “professional curiosity,” my initial reaction was, he could have asked me! I was, after all, standing 15 feet away. As a medical professional you’d think he’d know better, But… they often don’t. (That’s a whole other topic, and as a speaker, I would love to address the medical profession about this.) Any of these things could have happened near my home town. In fact, similar incidents have. For some, the next town is too far. Heck, for some people, their front door forms a significant barrier between them and accepting the world. The majority of people I came into contact with, including our drivers and guides, treated me with professional respect. I’m sure they noticed my difference and were probably curious, but they neither asked about it nor betrayed it in their expression. Frankly, what they thought of me initially didn’t matter. I really didn’t care. I cared that they treated me professionally and helped me have a good experience. And they did. Being afraid of what others think is a sticking point for a lot of people. It’s something we have no control over, yet we all too often allow it to affect our choices and actions. I believe in doing so, we are giving others control over us. Scratching the chin of a purring cheetah. If you are one of those people for whom traveling to a foreign country is too big of a step, try taking smaller steps. Go with a friend or relative rather than going alone. Engage in an activity that occupies your mind. If you’re worried about unwanted attention, try to concentrate on what you’re there to do or see rather than those around you. Keep pushing your comfort zone. If you become a victim of unwanted attention, process the experience and move on, but don’t allow it to force you into hiding. No one should be allowed to have that sort of control over you. And usually they mean no harm. If I was afraid to venture out, think of all the stuff I’d miss out on. Like feeling the inside of an elephant’s ear. Or petting a cheetah. The opportunities to do these things are a direct result of the choices I’ve made. This includes the choice to not let my facial paralysis or worrying about what others think stop me from getting out and experiencing the world. You, too, have a choice. Face your fear. Own your life. Choose freedom. Follow this journey on Facing Up to It. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

Dawn Shaw

How to Describe Facial Differences Without Words Like 'Disfigured'

Would you rather be described as having “a disfigurement” or “a difference”? A couple of years ago, a wonderful organization in the U.K. called Changing Faces asked its Facebook followers if using the term “disfigurement” might discourage people from asking for needed help. The responses were varied, and it is not my intent to disparage Changing Faces, as they do brilliant work. However, their thread started me thinking about semantics, connotations, preferences and alternative word choices. One definition of “disfigurement” is “an appearance that has been spoiled or misshapen.” Well, I don’t know about you, but that is not how I’d want to describe myself. Related words include “flawed,” “deformed,” “blemished,” “distorted” and “damaged.” When I asked for definitions of “deformed,” I found “to spoil the appearance of something and make it ugly” and “change for the worse in something’s appearance.” Ouch. These words are not helpful toward building up a person’s positive self-image. It’s a good thing I’ve rarely considered my face to be any of these things. When I describe myself, I generally don’t say, “My face is misshapen.” Or “deformed.” Or “disfigured.” Or “spoiled.” Or “flawed.” Unless I am trying to make some distinct literary point. Or unless I’m feeling really down about my appearance, which, thankfully, is fairly rare. So what words might be friendlier to one’s self-esteem? I prefer the term “facial difference.” One definition of “difference” is “the element or factor that separates or distinguishes” or “a characteristic that distinguishes one from another or from the average.” I kind of like that. I’ve always preferred not to be average, and instead of being described as “flawed,” I am “distinctive.” Much better! Besides, whether the differences are visible or hidden, aren’t we all different in some way from one another? Or maybe we can go with “anomaly,” which is defined as “a deviation from the norm or from expectations, especially of a bodily part” or “a deviation from the common rule, type, arrangement, or form.” To say “I have a facial anomaly” has more of a scientific ring to it and seems to emphasize uniqueness. Yet it doesn’t sound quite right. Another good option in specific cases is to use the medical term or cause. For example, I am not offended if someone describes me as having “partial facial paralysis.” However, I object to my face being described as “disfigured” or “deformed.” Connotations are what it really comes down to. What does a word imply to me or to others who hear or read it, whether or not they have a facial difference? For example, when I saw a Facebook post that said, “I feel disfigured,” my heart went out to that person because I knew it wasn’t a positive feeling she described. Words are usually chosen deliberately to invoke a desired response. This is a description of a television program: “A top team of U.K. craniofacial surgeons undertake an amazing challenge to transform the lives of seven children with disfiguring facial deformities in just one week!” The promoters deliberately make the children sound like they have a horrible affliction and the surgeons are made out to be heroes for trying to “fix” them. I am not denying these surgeries might improve the quality of life for these children on several levels. I am, however, disappointed the program is being promoted in such a sensationalistic manner that degrades the children. When Changing Faces helped develop law in England designed to protect people with a medical condition or injury affecting the appearance and/or mobility of their face against many forms of discrimination, they chose the word “disfigurement” because the legal language had to be clear, and unfortunately that is a term that leaves no doubt in the interpretation. Yet I still wish the organization would not make it so much a part of their common rhetoric. So how do I describe myself? “I am easy to recognize,” or “I have a unique appearance,” or “I have one of those unforgettable faces.” If I’m meeting up with someone I’ve never met, I send a photo and have no worries they can pick me out of a crowd. Being recognizable does have its advantages. When choosing descriptors, it is important to remember we are dealing with human beings who have feelings, many of whom understand words have multiple layers of meaning. As author Neil Gaiman would suggest, it’s not about being politically correct. It’s about treating people with respect. Follow this journey on Facing Up to It.

Dawn Shaw

Being Called 'an Inspiration'

Recently, I attended a summit with nine fellow women authors, most of whom have dealt with adversity of their own. During a lunch time conversation, a group of them turned to me and one of them asked: “How do you respond when someone says to you, “You’re such an inspiration?” They correctly suspected that I’ve had this said to me. I hesitated, began to say something else, but then responded “I generally start by saying thank you.” They all laughed. I don’t think it was the response they expected. I answer that way because I take being called an inspiration as a compliment. I asked the group in return: “What’s wrong with being an inspiration?” The answer to that might depend on how you interpret inspiration. If you feel you are not worthy of admiration, or if you feel you are being put up on a pedestal, I can understand the discomfort. The definition of inspiration is “the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions; a person, place, experience, etc. that makes someone want to do or create something.” Being an inspiration means being the force or influence that inspires someone to do something or to feel a certain way. I enjoy being that force. I am grateful my own story and experiences have empowered me to influence people, to encourage them to embrace their differences and make choices that help them live happier lives. That’s why I put myself out there, writing books and speaking professionally. However, I don’t want others to view what I have as unobtainable. Instead, I want the people I inspire to feel that they can achieve what I have — to create the mindset “If she can do it, so can I!” They also need to know it’s OK if they need a little help. If I can set an example through my positive choices, success, survival, happiness, confidence or whatever, how is that a bad thing? If I can inspire someone to aspire to a happier, more active, more productive life, isn’t that what any of us could hope for? Now, what I really don’t understand is when people call me “brave.” But I already wrote a blog about that. While it took some adjustment, I’m now totally fine with being an inspiration. Follow this journey on Facing Up to It. The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Dawn Shaw

Facial Reconstructive Surgery: Is Any Improvement Better Than No Improvement?

When it comes to facial reconstructive surgery, it’s not like I can just say “please put it all back” if I am unhappy with the result. When the producer of “Body Bizarre,” the show that shot a segment about me to air later this year, asked me if I’d be willing to do a consultation with a surgeon regarding facial reconstructive surgery, I was reluctant. But curiosity quickly got the better of me. A little back story: I was born with a benign but fast-growing tumor that threatened my airway. It was deeply embedded, so removing it meant taking out bone, nerve and muscle as well, leaving the left half of my face paralyzed. I had a number of reconstructive and cosmetic surgeries during my youth. It’s been 29 years since my last facial reconstructive surgery. I quit having them because when I was 21, the one I had went terribly wrong. I woke up in intensive care with a tube down my throat that was holding my airway open so it wouldn’t swell shut. After that horrific experience, I determined that the infinitesimal improvements made by each procedure did not justify the physical and emotional cost. Therefore, I needed to accept my appearance as it was and move on with my life. Over the intervening years, I’ve learned not only to accept but also embrace how I look. But medical science has advanced and I am always open to discussion, so at the behest of the TV show, the appointment was set up. The producer had done some research, and the surgeon I was to see came highly recommended. There were six of us in the tiny examining room that day: me, my husband Ian, the surgeon, his associate, their intern and the videographer from the TV show. After some poking and prodding, demonstrations of movement (or lack thereof) in my face and shoulders, and a lot of discussion, the surgeon made his recommendations. His first option involved a pretty major procedure. [Paraphrasing] “We would take a muscle from your thigh and transplant it to the left side of your face.” I was quick to interject. “Well, you’d have to take it from the right thigh because they’ve already taken one from the left thigh. But then at least both sides would match!” “We’d have to connect it to a working muscle in order to animate it,” he continued, “and since the masseter muscle on that side is missing, we would have to use one in either your neck or shoulder.” “Um, so what you’re saying is that I’d have to shrug my shoulders to smile?” “At first, yes, but by doing exercises and training the muscle over time, most of our patients are able to activate it automatically. They no longer have to consciously shrug — it becomes more involuntary. Here, let me show you what it would look like.” With that, he positioned me in front of a mirror, stood behind me and gently pulled up the left lip. It made my mouth rounder in its relaxed state, but all I could see was that my front teeth were fully exposed and prominent. I did not say this aloud, but I thought to myself: So basically there would be a gaping hole in my right thigh, I’d have to shrug my shoulders to smile and I’d look like a woodchuck. Plus it is a six-hour procedure and would keep me in the hospital for approximately four days. Add to that a significant recovery time with limited ability to take care of my horses, let alone ride. “I really think it would be a great improvement for you,” the surgeon insisted. “It would not only improve symmetry, but would really improve your speech and your ability to eat.” My speech is fine… and I really don’t get how it will improve my eating since it won’t add teeth or improve connectivity on the left side. But that’s just it. The surgeon has the ideology lots of people seem have — that any improvement is better than no improvement. If it can be done, then it should be done, and he sincerely believes he’d be doing great things for me. I’ve had a number of people suggest to me that additional surgery can really “help” me, sometimes even giving me the name of a surgeon I should contact. As stated in my new book, “Facial Shift, Adjusting to an Altered Appearance,” people don’t understand it can take just an infinitesimal amount of asymmetry for it to be noticeable that someone is “different.” The degree of difference matters little. I’ve opted out of this particular procedure. It’s too invasive, and the outcome too nebulous. Most significantly, the thought of it fills me with dread, not optimism. If I were 16, I might well go for it. In fact, up until the surgery at age 21, I went along with doing surgeries because I understood this was the thing to do. Until the one nearly killed me, I never gave much thought to stopping. Now, however, as I near age 50, I’m used to this face in the mirror. I don’t want to look in the mirror and not see me, or worse yet, a face that looks worse, not better. It’s not like I can just say “please put it all back” if I am unhappy with the result. I am not opposed to the concept of surgery, especially if it can improve something that causes discomfort or fixes something that might cause potential problems in the future. In fact, I have elected to go ahead with the surgeon’s second option, which is a much less extensive procedure. My left eye doesn’t close all the way, so it gets dry and irritated. It tears up, often dripping down my face. While I do not seem to have a problem with eye infections, that is certainly a possibility, increasingly so as I get older. The surgeon will take a tendon from my wrist and use that to pull up the sagging lid below my left eye. He will then insert a gold weight in my upper eyelid. When I expressed concern that it would pull my eyelid down, he said the muscle that keeps the eye open is working, so that won’t be an issue. The hope is that by bringing the lower lid up and weighing the upper lid down, the two would more effectively meet, allowing more protection for the eye. What it will not do is restore my ability to blink that eye. It helped my decision that this is a two-hour outpatient procedure. The worst part will likely be the incision in my wrist, for which I’ll have to lay off horse handling and horse chores for two to three weeks. I hope it works, but after all the surgeries that failed to meet expectations, I’m not overly emotionally invested. But I figured if it makes my eye more comfortable and causes less irritation and dripping, it’s worth a shot. My takeaway is that it’s OK to be OK with who you are and how you look. Anything you doundertake should be for yourself and no one else. The procedure involving my eye may slightly improve my appearance. But I don’t really care about that. Follow this journey on Facing Up to It.

Dawn Shaw

Facial Paralysis: When People Call Me ‘Brave’ When I’m Just Living

I don’t understand why people call me brave. I accept it as a compliment, even though it puzzles me. This is the face I take into the world every day, and I’m OK with that. I’m pretty sure they are referring to the fact that I go out into the world with a face that looks like mine, but how is that brave? It’s all I have known, and besides, what’s the alternative? Hiding myself away? Perhaps they assume I must deal with stares, questions, comments and taunts on a daily basis. I do experience these things periodically but not daily. That certainly would put a damper on getting through each day, but even then, we learn to adjust. I just live my life. How is that brave? Perhaps they consider me brave because I speak publicly to both kids and adult groups about accepting and embracing differences in both themselves and others. I’m comfortable speaking to groups, and it’s important for me to get my message out. So still I ask, how is that brave? One of my webinar guests, musician Kit Karlson, was struck with Bell’s palsy the day before he was scheduled to go on an intense three-week tour with his band, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers. With half of his face suddenly and inexplicably paralyzed, activities like eating, speaking and smiling were adversely affected. He elected to go on the tour anyway. During the webinar, I called him brave. What’s the difference? Why is he brave and not me? It’s not about humility. I’ve lived this way all of my life. I know my appearance doesn’t affect my ability to do almost anything else I want to do, and I’m very grateful for that. I’ve had speech therapy, and while I’m not the tidiest eater, I’ve adapted. I’m used to the stares, questions and reactions of people around me as I move into new situations. In some respects, I take these things for granted. These are my “norm.” For Kit, however, this was all new. The choice for him to go on tour was easy primarily because he didn’t want to let his band down. His skill on the keyboard was unaffected, even if he did have to give up playing the tuba. As stressful as the tour was, he was at least sheltered by the support of his bandmates, friends and fans. In retrospect, Kit admitted that doing the tour was the best thing for him. It prevented him from holing up in his house feeling sorry for himself and worrying about how long the Bell’s palsy might last. (Kit’s affliction lasted only two weeks with no after-effects.) Also, once his situation was known, he came to realize quite a few people have had experience with Bell’s palsy, either personally or via someone they know. Did he endure stares? Yes. Did he have trouble eating? Absolutely. (He kept to himself during meals.) Did he smile on stage? I’m sure he did. And while it wasn’t his usual smile, it still meant the same thing. Bravery is being afraid and doing it anyway. Kit had a lot of unknowns to be afraid of. Hence, Kit was brave. Me? I just live my life day to day. When it comes to my face, there isn’t much reason to be afraid. Follow this journey on Facing Up to It. The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability and/or disease, and what would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to community@themighty.com. Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.