Over the weekend, I was reading a post by Madmutt on his blog – about Jade Goody. He explains some of the excesses of the media coverage and I can’t help but agree.

Jade made her name in Big Brother in the UK and has become a product of reality television in just about every form that it has up to having her own show now where her life is shadowed by television cameras.

Jade, tragically, has an aggressive form of cervical cancer. She is desperately unwell and she has been told that she is at the latter stages of the illness as the cancer has spread.

It is desperately hard to feel anything except enormous pity for Jade. She is young and she has a young family. She made a statement that she wants to publicise her illness in order to create a better future for her sons.

I don’t think we would begrudge her that, except, as Madmutt says, does the limit come at any point as we are ‘treated’ to an endless stream of news and photos on a daily basis which express her clearly deteriorating health.

Of course it is right that she should be praised for raising awareness of cervical cancer and the need for screening.

But I can’t help but feel uncomfortable about the bombardment of media interest in her condition. I know she wants it. It does have a feel of excessiveness though.

My ‘take’ on it, as you will, is that my own mother died of cancer when I was a little bit older than Jade’s children are now. The time between diagnosis and death was relatively short – months, rather than years.

I can’t help but think of Jade’s children in the future and how they will perceive the pictures of pain that are daily streamed even on the BBC news. There is no way to avoid the media coverage.

Perceptions of death, dying and illness are very different when viewed through the eyes of a primary age child – who might be sheltered from some of the pains of life by a parent – you know, the hamster that ‘goes to sleep’ or the dog that ‘goes to live in a farm in the country’. But when it is the parent that goes, these explanations and simplifications come back to play with the mind.

In retrospect, it is perhaps easier to see how I moved through different ‘stages’ of grief as I moved through my adolescence. I think the ‘anger’ stage was one of the more difficult to bear.

I was angry at her for leaving me – us (the family – my siblings and father). How could she do this? Why didn’t she fight harder against the illness?

Of course, you move on from this stage eventually – and obviously, I am at a very different stage now, but thinking about Jade’s children, I have to wonder how helpful this process of sharing their mother with the media will be to them in the longer term.

I hope they have a lot of stability and support around them. My fear is that sometimes more money does not equal more support.

And I really do hope the media back off soon. It is getting beyond tasteful – although I think that happened a while ago – and although I accept she wants to have the publicity, I can’t help but wishing there were a way to avoid it or restrict it to outlets that I choose to read or buy.

Perhaps that is a more personal reaction from me though, as I can’t help but draw parallels and can’t escape from some of the more painful memories that reside in the ‘me-as-a-child’ sections of my mind that are for the most part locked away.

8 thoughts on “Jade

  1. I think that you have it exactly right there. Yes, it is very sad that Jade finds herself in this position, but I do not want to be bombarded with news about her everyday. The information should be there, if that is what she wants, and like you I have serious concerns about the effect this is having on her children, but in forms of media that I choose to buy rather that those that I can access for free.

  2. I agree totally with you, too. My friends and I were just having a conversation about it the other day, and saying how hard this must be for her kids. They really cannot escape from the reality of their mother’s slow demise anywhere, there is currently nowhere that they can hide, ignore, have fun without this knowledge staring them in the face. I wonder how their school is handling it- school can often a good respite for children from the various stresses and strains of home life- but for these two lads, all their friends will be well aware of their struggles and they can have no privacy at all. I wonder what impact this will have on their emotional health in future years.
    I do understand why she is doing it, and am sure she has thought about it well and hard, but I do wonder if she is handling it in the best way. On the other hand, however, I am one woman who plucked up the courage to be screened for the first time in 10 years as a result of this coverage, with a negative result (thank goodness!) so do have to be grateful to her too.

    • I think the impact that her illness has had on take up of cervical screening is wonderful and it has and likely will continue to have a real effect. That can’t be underestimated. Personally, though, I feel a little uncomfortable although as you say, I can understand.. her life has been validated by the media.

  3. I guess what disturbs me about it is the pervasive notion that everyone should get their 15 minutes. It’s reality TV run amok–let’s capture my DEATH on film and sprinkle it to the masses.

    That decision doesn’t strike me as one that she made for her family, but rather one she made for herself.

    OK, sorry. American stepping down now…..

    • I suppose it is that division of self from family – it just doesn’t always sit right but it is her decision to make – unless there is a question of the media manipulation but perhaps that’s a different story for a different day!

      and the world would be a much poorer (and quieter) place if Americans couldn’t express opinions šŸ™‚

  4. I agree with you too, Cb. Even over here, we get the excessive media coverage and it does make me feel uncomfortable. Of course everyone thinks, “There but for the grace of God go I… ” and feels for Jade, who is coping with it, perhaps, in the best and only way she can. But as you say, it is getting distasteful. I am sorry that you lost your own mother so early, cb.

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