The Celebrity Effect
It seems if a celebrity or her loved one is diagnosed with an illness, it tends to get a lot of ink or television exposure.
For example, actress and comedienne Jenny McCarthy has been talking about autism-her son Evan has the disorder. She's even written a book, called Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism, about her experiences.
McCarthy believes a vaccination Evan received caused his autism, and she's been speaking out about vaccines. On June 4 she will lead, along with her famous actor boyfriend Jim Carrey, the Green Our Vaccines march in Washington, DC.
It is wonderful McCarthy is taking a stand and starting a conversation about autism-especially because her celebrity gives her the ability to, while many other mothers do not have the fame, and therefore the power, to make their cause known. But stances celebrities take and things they say about a disease can have a major impact.
There hasn't been any research firmly proving certain vaccinations cause autism. McCarthy and Carey's rally called for "national health agencies to reassess mandatory vaccine schedules," according to Fox News. If this influences health agencies to do so, will children be missing out on necessary vaccines?
Another example is Sen. Ted Kennedy's brain tumor diagnosis. Sen. Kennedy has been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor called a glioma. Although it hasn't been released what type of glioma the senator has, the cancerous tumor is known for being aggressive and having a low survival rate.
Because it is rarer than other types of cancer, brain cancer is not talked about as often or featured in the media. But since Sen. Kennedy's diagnosis, there have been many articles on gliomas, vaccine trials and therapies for people with brain cancer.
Although I was sorry to hear about the senator's diagnosis with the disease, I'm glad his prowess is bringing brain cancer into "the spotlight." However, it's sad it takes a famous person's diagnosis to give certain diseases "their time to shine."