Cancer survivor spreads hope after comparing herself to a ‘horror movie’

Helen Prior underwent major reconstructive surgery in 2015 after learning she had two types of skin cancer on her face. The painful operation, which was performed on her nose and cheek, initially left her with the feeling that she no longer had a reason to live. But after her long recovery, she has taken up acting and hopes to inspire others on their cancer journey.

The 65-year-old art historian from St John’s Wood, England has opened up about her battle with cancer after becoming a stand-up comedian.

“The psychological impact was absolutely horrific. I looked like something out of a horror movie and felt like the ugliest woman in the world. I didn’t want to live,” Prior told the Islington Gazette. “I bought huge sunglasses to cover my face and tried to live a ‘normal life’.”

She eventually had to undergo another surgery when she was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Prior explained, “I had to go under the knife again, but I hid it from everyone. I thought if people found out I would be left out. It was not only the physical pain but also the emotional recovery that took a long time. I was removed from normal life. To be honest, life was never the same again.

After major surgery, Prior said she “looked like something out of a horror movie.” (Photo credit: Instagram via Helen Prior)

Despite tough times throughout her recovery and losing her job amid the coronavirus pandemic, the two-time cancer survivor has started to pursue a new hobby: acting.

“Comedy has become a great substitute for all that a woman my age lacks in life – attention, love and a new career. I like to see people happy,” Prior said. want to inspire people and show them that even at my age, even after a horrible illness, you can find magic in your life. But my message is, don’t wait, do it yourself!

Her comedic sketches include excerpts from a book she wrote that is due for publication in August 2022, sometimes dating back centuries, that sound similar to mine. So I bring all of that into the show,” said Prior, who aspires to show others that there is still laughter and happiness to be felt after a cancer diagnosis. “Art can make you judge your own life better. It really helps!”

Prior, who describes himself on his instagram Page as a ‘frustrated amazing woman – bad writer, dyslexic, bad pilot, bad dancer, bad wife, hilarious comedian great mum’, has performed at various comedy clubs across England.

Prior shared this photo of a younger version of herself on social media (Photo credit: Instagram @helen.prior)

Prevent skin cancer

Applying sunscreen and incorporating it into a daily routine is key to preventing skin cancer. A lot of people brush it off and think they’re using it correctly, but if you don’t choose the right kind or don’t use enough of it, the reality is that it might not work.

Dr Cecilia Larocca, a dermatologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, recommends SurvivorNet use at least SPF 30 and reapply it every two hours. “Your sunscreen should also be broad-spectrum,” says Dr. Larocca, meaning it covers both UVB and UVA rays.

Choose the right sunscreen and use it often

One thing a lot of people don’t know is that you only get about 50% of the SPF on the label. “So if you’re using SPF 60, you’re really getting closer to SPF 30 of protection,” says Dr. Larocca.

To make sure you get the right protection, she also recommends using sunscreen every two hours and wearing protective clothing, like a hat and sunglasses.

How to protect yourself

For most people, there are simple ways to significantly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. We asked dermatologist Dr. Dendy Engelman to provide the top five ways to protect your skin against skin cancer. It turns out that most of his recommendations are very simple to implement and could save your life.

  1. Avoid the sun during peak hours, which is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. That doesn’t mean you should never go out in the middle of the day, but make sure you’re protected when you venture outside.
  2. Cover your skin and eyes – A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses will protect your face, the top of your head, your ears and the delicate skin around your eyes.
  3. Wear an SPF of 30 or more – It’s pretty easy. Many face moisturizers contain a built-in SPF. Dr. Engelman also recommends reapplying every few hours, or after excessive sweating or swimming.
  4. Get an annual skin exam – You can check your own skin for anything that seems unusual, but you should still do an annual skin exam to make sure you haven’t missed anything. If you notice anything unusual between checkups, make an appointment to talk to your doctor as soon as possible – it’s always worth making sure.
  5. Avoid Tanning Beds – This one is obvious…but just a reminder, tanning beds can significantly increase your risk of developing melanoma. If you feel too pale, Dr. Engelman recommends a self-tanner. “There is absolutely no benefit to going to a tanning bed,” Dr. Engelman said.

Top 5 Ways to Protect Your Skin Against Skin Cancer

Contributor: SurvivorNet staff

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Danielle Cinone is a writer at SurvivorNet. Read more

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