Archive for March, 2009
If you’d asked me for a list of topics I’m likely to write a blog post about, I doubt if Jade Goody would have featured in the top 1000. But here I am, joining in. In a way I guess I’m just trying to make sense of my own feelings on the issues.
Jade passed away this morning. A 27-year-old victim of cancer. By any measure, a tragic loss of a young life. And an avoidable loss – if the press is to believed, Jade ignored the results of a cervical screen test which had showed pre-cancerous cells, and allowed the disease to develop and subsequently spread.
With much of her recent life acted out (willingly and deliberately) in the glare of tabloid publicity, it was obvious that her illness would be lived the same way. The intimate secrets of a reality TV star hold no interest for me, but in my more gracious moments I will acknowledge that there must be more than a few people for whom it’s important enough to watch TV programmes and buy magazines devoted to the subject. So the world followed Jade’s illness and talked about how she coped, and how she ensured that her family would be provided for after her death in the only way she could- by selling the whole story to the press.
My mother died of cancer 28 years ago, and two of my grandparents before that. They were not celebrities in any way, just 3 of the millions of loved ones who fight the disease every year. They lost their battles in a private way, retreating from their social lives and to some extent, their families as the illness progressed.
Nobody, not even close family, discussed the disease then, or even now. Nobody discussed the risks, the need for screening, treatment options (and the not insignificant side-effects of treatment), palliative care, or what to prepare for as their lives came to an end.
Today, cancer and the issues around it are on every front page and website. The NHS reports an up to 50% increase in demand for cervical cancer screening, and leading cancer charities are talking about increased awareness of the risks of cancer amongst young women in particular – the demographic that most identified with Jade and her plight. In short, cancer is a subject on the popular agenda for the first time.
It might be for what you could describe as the wrong reasons, but I believe that the taboo around the terrible disease of cancer may just have died along with its latest celebrity victim.
God bless, Jade, and your young family.