When Dawn Shaw was born she could barely breathe. A rare, fast-growing tumor, called a teratoma, was interfering with her wind pipe, and she was rushed off for an immediate tracheostomy. The eventual complete removal of the teratoma permanently altered the left side of her face, leaving her with misaligned jaws, hearing loss and paralysis.
The removal of a tumor at birth may have left her face half-paralyzed, but that hasn’t stopped Shaw from living a fulfilling life and creating confidence in others. Shaw has published three books, including her memoir Facing Up to It and more recently an inspirational guide titled Facial Shift: Adjusting to an Altered Appearance. She hosted an online series called “Friending the Mirror,” which addressed appearance-related issues and insecurities with the goal of educating people about differences. She has also appeared on international television in an episode of Body Bizarre on the Discovery Life channel. In October 2017, she traveled to Montreal, Quebec to act—and sing—for a small supporting role an independent movie titled Happy Face, currently being shown in select film festivals and in limited theatrical release. Aside from the movie role, her TEDx talk titled Beauty is an Inside Job has garnered her international recognition. Shaw also credits her parents taking her out into the world, exposing her to many places and people, rather than hiding her away. She came to recognize that the choices she made about how to live with her facial difference impacted her outlook on life. Outside of speaking and writing, she raises Icelandic horses and indulges in a passion for live music, supporting numerous independent bands and artists.
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