My Problem With Articles That List 'Famous People With Serious Illnesses'


I usually ignore the “news” stories which appear on my homepage whenever I click onto the internet, but today one of the headlines caught my eye: Famous People Who Live With Serious Illness. I clicked on the link, hoping for… well, something.

Perhaps details about the symptoms they have to contend with on a daily basis.

Perhaps an insight into the lack of research and medical support for some of these conditions.

Perhaps some statistics about the number of people (famous or otherwise) who live with these illnesses.

Perhaps some inspirational anecdotes about how they have managed to succeed while managing their condition.

Perhaps some motivational words to help fellow people with chronic illnesses through their dark days.

Perhaps some information about how they are using their celebrity status (and, possibly, wealth) to bring about real change for other people with the same condition.

But no, it was just a series of images of these famous people, all looking suitably fabulous.

In some ways, I’m glad that this was deemed important enough “news” to hit the home page. If nothing else, it might have made some people aware of the illness that you or I are suffering with on a daily basis, perhaps adding conditions like the Epstein-Barr virus, Ménière disease and tachycardia to their vocabulary.

In other ways, it infuriates me. After all, if these people can hold down stressful jobs and contend with being in the limelight, as well as coping with a chronic illness, how hard can it be? I’m not blaming the celebrities by any means – they probably don’t even know that this “article” exists – but feel that the writer responsible has missed a valuable opportunity to support the chronically ill community.

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Photo by Gage Skidmore via Flickr


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