Hugh Jackman Reveals: I Had Skin Cancer

The actor -- like many other celebrities who have come forward with illness -- is advocating for prevention

Hugh Jackman just had a run-in with something much scarier than an X-Men villain: skin cancer. On Thursday, the Wolverine actor posted this Instagram photo of his nose wrapped in bandages:

In the caption, Jackman, 45, explained that his wife Deborra-Lee Furness urged him to get a suspicious mark on his nose checked out.

"Boy, was she right! I had a basil cell carcinoma," Jackman wrote. "Please don't be foolish like me. Get yourself checked. And USE sunscreen!!!"

Whoa. You can actually see that mark on his nose in recent photographs, and honestly, it doesn't look like much. Deborra should get the Wife of the Year award for pushing Jackman to see a doctor.

In recent years, we've seen a lot of celebrities go public with their cancer battles, as Jackman just did. Some, like Cynthia Nixon, Ian McKellan and Kathy Bates, kept their cancer a secret for years. Others have gone public while they're still in treatment -- most notably Valerie Harper, who appeared on Dancing with the Stars after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Even normally reclusive A-list stars are becoming more candid about their health; Angelina Jolie, for example, wrote a New York Times article to announce her double mastectomy.

A life-threatening illness was once the kind of thing that celebrities would go to great lengths to hide. Why the change? It may simply be that we live in a culture of over-sharing, where announcing personal information on Twitter is par for the course. Or perhaps celebs no longer feel entitled to that privacy; if TMZ is going to find out about it eventually, they'd rather take control of the story and announce it themselves.

Whatever celebrities' reasons, there is something admirable and altruistic about the decision to come forward with a disease. Valerie Harper chose to go public, in part, to advocate for universal health care. Jolie wants women to be more aware of their genetic risk for breast and ovarian cancer. Giuliana Rancic told her breast cancer story on live TV, and urged viewers to get routine mammograms. And of course, Jackman wants us all to wear sunscreen.

To reveal that you're sick is to become very vulnerable -- especially if you're a celebrity with all eyes on you. But there's no shame in having a health problem, and it's much easier to advocate for research and prevention when the topic is out in the open. To all the people, famous or not, who are brave enough to tell their stories: you deserve applause.

Donna Kaufman is a freelance writer and iVillage contributor. Find her on Twitter and Google+

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