Monday, 23 March 2009

Jade Goody dies

Anyone who has lost a loved one to cancer knows that the disease can be summarised in one word: horror. The horror of diagnosis. The horror of knowing that days are numbered. The horror of saying goodbye. The horror of the physical pain. The horror of losing hair during treatment. The horror of treatment failing. The horror of blindness. The horror of organs shutting down one by one. Morphine. Losing consciousness. Death.

However, for anyone who (thankfully) hasn't seen a cancer death first hand, this reality has - up until now - remained relatively hidden. Although the 'one in three of us will get cancer' statistic is regularly bandied around by the press, I've never seen anything in the papers that really conveys what cancer means - until now.

With Jade Goody's death, there has been a sea-change in how cancer is presented to us by the media. For the first time, every minute detail that families of cancer victims are all-too-painfully aware of has been put in front of people. From the morphine machine in the wedding dress to the onset of Jade's blindness, the horror of cancer has, arguably for the first time, been really laid out for all to see. On TV, on the front pages of tabloids, on the internet, in office conversations, everywhere.

For me (and I'm sorry if this sounds harsh) Jade Goody didn't really offer much when she was alive, but her public death - whilst sad - has had very positive ramifications. More people are going for smear tests, donations to cancer charities are up; cancer awareness has increased. But the most important outcome is this: we are too good at hiding realities, but for once, the horror of cancer has been revealed. It's sad (although probably fitting) that it took a reality TV star to give us a dose of real life.

Or real death.

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1 comment:

  1. hi chris. if it weren't for my gossip-hungry sister, i wouldn't have even known who jade goody was, especially not from my corner of the world. i feel terrible that she has to die at such a young age, but as a medical student, i welcome the increased awareness and increased number of women going out to get screened for cervical cancer. hopefully people would be more willing to get vaccinated against hpv too, since people in the uk tend to become sexually active alot younger. do check if the nhs is offering the vaccine free to british women, like the australian govt is.

    i hope there will be alot less jade goodys out there who have to suffer the consequences of a cancer that could be prevented or at least detected early.

    great blog post, btw.


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