Jade Goody dies on Mother’s Day
Jade Goody passed away in her sleep this morning at home in Essex. In the past few months, Jade’s story and her decision to die in the public eye has been criticised, villified, admired by some, and picked over to an unprecedented degree. While many will still feel ambivalent about it , Jade Goody’s choice to die a public death, has done us a service in showing us the reality of cancer, and taking it from behind closed doors into the public arena. “We have already broken the taboo about cancer, but this is the first time that we’ve seen in such a public way the move from active care to palliative care and eventually to death,” said Karol Sikora, professor of cancer medicine at London’s Imperial College School of Medicine.
Jade has left a legacy of an increased awareness of cancer which has prompted many women to take action that may prolong their lives, and has opened up a debate on death and the act of dying. Calls to the Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK helplines increased by 50% on the Monday after Goody’s wedding. Carolan Davidge, Cancer Research UK, said: “Jade has done a huge amount to raise awareness of the importance of cervical screening. If Jade’s experience motivates people to contribute to our cervical cancer research, we hope more lives could be saved in the future.”
Today Jade’s story ends and while there is certainly much to feel uncomfortable about when reflecting on the media circus surrounding her death and the almost salacious prurience this led to on the part of the public, all that really remains to say is that Jade, a young woman and mother, died tragically young of a disease which has claimed the lives of too many mothers, daughters and sisters. In the coming days there will be much talk of legacy as people look for meaning in the life and death of a celebrity, before Jade’s story inevitably fades from the public consciousness. My own hope as a cancer survivor myself, is that we can find a way to strike a more balanced portrayal of the realities of cancer and how we as a society approach death.