LINGERING FAREWELL

THIS WAS ORIGINALLY WRITTEN AND PUBLISHED IN 2010

Today we are going to mull over a moral dilemma. Is it right or acceptable behavior to share your own death with the paying public - Isn’t this the ultimate reality television?

 

Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his sympathies for British reality TV star Jade Goody, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

 

He is quoted as saying that people should "applaud her determination to help her family", by her sale of the media rights to her wedding this weekend. OK! magazine has bought exclusive rights to this Sunday's ceremony for £700,000 and Living TV paid a further £100,000 to broadcast it.

 

The former Big Brother contestant's plight was "very sad and tragic"; Brown told his regular monthly press conference. Mr Brown went on to say: "It's very sad and tragic that such a young woman has this cancer. It's very sad indeed that the treatment has not been successful."

 

He added: "Her determination to help her family is something that we have got to applaud and I wish her family well."

 

In January 2007, Ms Goody received a huge barrage of criticism for her alleged racist bullying of her fellow Celebrity Big Brother contestant, Indian film actress Shilpa Shetty. Goody was consequently slung out of the Big Brother house.

 

Last year, in an ironic twist, Ms Goody appeared on the Indian version of Big Brother. She had to leave prematurely when informed she had cervical cancer.

 

Months of treatment followed and now it has just been revealed that the cancer had spread to her bowel, liver and groin, leaving her only months to live.

 

This young woman decided that she wants to share this experience to the end. She claims two reasons for doing so, the first is that she wants to provide as well as she’s able for her young sons. The second is that Jade believes that other women can benefit from the terrible lesson she is learning about regular health check ups and screenings. Apparently if Jade had followed up as she could and should have done she would have enjoyed a 90%+ chance of survival whereas she now has a 0% chance.

 

I know the benefits of regular medical checks myself as twice they have spotted pre-cancerous cells in me, which were quickly and easily dealt with, and following which I am fortunate enough to have suffered no consequences.

 

Ms. Goody is not so fortunate, and is hated and loved by many who have watched her short career as a TV celebrity, famous for being famous. She might not be the brightest intellect in the world, but surely no one deserves an end like this.

 

My wife was shopping a few weeks ago and found Jade distraught and crying in her car in the parking lot. She offered the young woman whatever comfort she could, but she was distraught at the obvious distress she was in. Imagine having to put on a brave face in public all the time whilst your world is literally falling apart.

 

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Jade’s decision to share her harrowing experience with the world; no one else has the moral right to condemn her motives, whatever they might be. I think she is very brave and deserves our total support in this, her toughest fight. In a way, if she has this support she will triumph even in her own death, and that is what she deserves.

 

If Jade needs the money to cushion the blow of her imminent demise for her children surely she deserves that right.

 

If Jade, by her terrible example, can warn just one other woman to protect herself adequately health wise then that would be wonderful. There are, in fact, reports of a 20-30% increase in young women seeking the appropriate cervical smear tests since Jade made herself a public campaign.

 

For those sanctimonious and patronising members of the chattering classes who take a morally higher tone I respond with the words of Mark Twain, “Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.”