Jade Goody: ‘I’ve lived in front of cameras. And maybe I’ll die in front of them’
Jade Goody’s stricken face stared out from the front page of a Sunday paper today and it is now obvious that she has only a short time left to live. Poor Jade. Like so many others, when I first heard the news that she had cervical cancer I thought it was yet another publicity stunt. Jade has certainly made the most of her fame since she emerged from the Big Brother House a few years ago. Her decision to allow television cameras to follow her around since her cancer diagnosis has been criticized by a lot of people. It is very different from the dignified behind closed doors way Kylie Minogue handled her treatment, emerging more beautiful and more radiant at the end of it. But, I applaud Jade’s decision. The reality is that cancer treatment is not a pretty business – and in Jade we are seeing the raw face of cancer. Seeing her emerging in public bald and not covering it up is a stark reminder of how cancer truly is. For Jade there will be no happy ending. “People will say I’m doing this for money – and they’re right, I am,” she has said. “But not to buy flash cars or big houses. It’s for my sons’ future if I’m not here.” She said: ‘When I first knew I had cancer, I worked out a strategy. ‘I thought if I earn enough while I’m sick there will be enough for them to go to private school until they are 18. ‘I know people think I’m betraying my roots by sending them to private school but I want them to have the best start in life”.
There is a definite snobbery by the public towards the way Jade has chosen to handle her illness. But apart from the fact that she is doing this to secure the future of her two little boys, she is doing us all a valuable service in allowing the cameras to film her treatment. This is what it’s like to loose your hair, that visceral feeling when it comes out in clumps. This is what it’s like to experience chemotherapy. In the last week, it was reported that a massive increase in women attending screenings for cervical cancer have taken place and they put this down to the Jade effect. The rapidity of her cancer and the fact that her image has been constantly before us has played a large part in this. In the normal course of events, when you hear of a celebrity with cancer, after your initial shock, you forget about it again, as they either go away quietly to die or emerge a year later better than ever. Jade is not going quietly and I admire her for that, whatever her critics say.