How do I deal with feeling lopsided?
- November 5, 2016

_MG_1072Dear Susan,

Due to cancer surgery several months ago, I have partial paralysis on the right side of my face. My mouth doesn’t look too bad and I try to remember when I speak to try to keep my face relaxed and not move my mouth too much. I’m hesitant to laugh and smile, because it’s so lopsided!
My cancer treatment was successful and I try to remember how lucky I am. But I ‘m unhappy about how distorted my face looks. I’ve felt pretty down and I’ve been staying home a lot. I’m wondering how other people handle having something happen to their face.
Signed:Sad in Pittsburgh

Dear Sad in Pittsburgh,

Dealing with a change in your appearance, especially when it involves a facial disfigurement or paralysis, is a major challenge and can definitely affect your self-concept and social confidence.

It’s a crisis that is difficult to deal with alone. I’ve found that people often need to find a supportive person that they can talk to, like a special friend or counselor. It can be awkward to talk about, and one thing that really helps is speaking to someone who has been through a similar experience.

You’re invited to join our support group, which is made up of individuals who are dealing with a disfigurement, and you can call our help line and speak directly to one of our volunteers, who have also dealt with the same sort of problem.

I’m concerned about your hesitancy to laugh or move the muscles in your face. Please understand that in order to suppress your facial expression, you suppress the emotions themselves. Several studies have shown that not only do smiles reflect feelings of joy or satisfaction, but the act of smiling can actually cause you to feel more positive. That includes lopsided smiles!

In our group discussions, we’ve concluded that “people who are truly valuable to us are not going to be repelled by a change in our appearance”. We’ve also noticed that if we make an effort to regard the lack of symmetry in our face as unimportant, other people see it as a lesser problem, too.

Relationships with others are an essential part of our lives and require communication, not only of thoughts but also of emotions. Facial expression is part of this communication, and we’ve found that allowing our faces to reflect our feelings improves and increases our relationships, both casual and personal.

But most of us need help dealing with such a traumatic event and change in our appearance. Be sure and let health team know how you’re feeling and be open to available supportive services. The bottom line is deciding what impact we will allow the disfigurement to have on our lives, and feelings. We can develop the strength and coping skills with support.

And call Face2Face Healing – we’d be happy to talk to you. Call 844-323-4325 option 1.

  • disqus_8mkUiKRJ39

    Bitter and Hopeless

    • Thank you for responding. I am sorry that you are in this situation. I am happy to listen or help. You can email me or call me 844-323-4325. I look forward to hearing from you. I know that it is not easy.

  • disqus_8mkUiKRJ39

    I had surgery for AdenoCystic carcinoma of the Submandible right salivary gland..had neck dissection and the nerve of my tongue was removed. Which I have no feeling but it caused the left side of my mouth to droop and I drool at times..they have given me exercises,tried botox but it gave me a bad speech impediment..they cut depressor muscle twice…no I’m told they can’t do anything to fix my drooling and my mouth..i do not want to smile,laugh get a selfie or date since my husband left me after I had this cancer..I just am so bitter to the fact that though I feel bad for Breast Cancer seems as soon as the masectomies are done..the reconstruction of the new breasts are immediate and even Nipples are tattooed because they need it for their self esteem..Really??..they could wear prosthetic and no one would ever know! I can’t wear a prosthetic face and why can’t reconstruction be done on our faces??..We have to show our mouths and faces to the world and I hate having slobber and food falling out of my mouth when I eat or speak!!..I don’t even acknowledge Breast cancer awareness. Because the hospital UPMC and my doctor..which I won’t name here doesn’t really care but I have serious low self esteem and cry ..People say oh we don’t see not their face..and therapy is talking going to change the mirror?.Is there anyone who feels like I quality of life is suffering tremendously..maybe people will say I’m vain and I am very grateful to be alive..but that said why can’t they reconstruct us as well..we didn’t ask for this horrible so discouraged..Bonnie Beck Monroeville You for listening🙁

    • Hello Bonnie, I am so sorry to hear about all you are going through. No, you are not vain. Dealing with facial disfigurement or deformity has been very difficult for me as well because it is the first line of communication and the first thing people look at. Even though all cancers or diseases are horrible, most have scars that can be covered up. We are left exposed. Please call me 844-323-4325 option 1 to discuss.

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