Previews of the latest episode of Madam Secretary showed the titular character, Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord, with what looks like cuts on her head. Tea Leoni’s character has been in explosions, bombings, and car accidents, so many fans assumed that Secretary McCord got into yet another scrape.
Monsters & Critics says that it is soon revealed that McCord has had some minor surgery to remove skin cancer from her face. The plot of the Madam Secretary episode is not about skin cancer, but the powerful sub-plot about McCord’s basal cell carcinoma (a type of skin cancer) is very personal to Leoni, whose father, Tony Pantaleoni, battled skin cancer himself.
“At one point, during a conversation with her children, McCord said that the cancer wasn’t going to kill her. As long as basal cell carcinoma is removed in good time, the survival rate is high.”
At the end of the show, a message was read about the early detection of skin cancer.
“According to the American Cancer Society, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer. Early detection is essential and saves lives.”
Basal cell carcinoma is the most common type of skin cancer, as basal cells are what keeps our skin alive.
— Madam Secretary (@MadamSecretary) November 26, 2018
This isn’t the first time that executive producer Lori McCreary and the cast of Madam Secretary have decided to take on big topics which are in the news.
Leoni says she thinks that they could not go through the season without addressing the #MeToo movement, and something that happened to Elizabeth in Season 3 of the hit CBS show.
“We actually address an incident from season three. He went in for a grope and Elizabeth met him with an elbow and broke his nose. He comes back this season, and I have an opportunity to chat with him about it.”
Leoni wanted fans to know that sexual assault happens to women in every job and every pay strata.
“Elizabeth handles it, but Elizabeth is in an incredible position to handle it. I have four Secret Service detail with me and a TV show, so I get to win really easily. In some ways, that’s a great moment to show. But it’s also a sobering reminder that it is rarely that easy to solve or to face or to deal with.”
Leoni and McCreary agree that part of a show about people who serve is to address topics which are happening to actual people.