Friday, March 20, 2009

Not so 'OK'

As an avid magazine reader, I love it when they have exclusives. Break ups, babies, scandal – I love it all. It’s such a perfect contrast to the other things I read, such as medieval history and political books, as you don’t have to think about anything when you read them. It’s even acceptable to just look at the pictures. And when you’re lying in the bath at the end of a long day or week, sometimes that’s just the kind of mundane and brainless trash you need to read so you can switch off from life for a little while.

However, I’ve been appalled this week by OK magazine's tribute issue to Jade Goody and think it’s just dreadful what they’ve done. In case you haven’t heard, then here’s a quick synopsis. Jade Goody, who as well all know is terminally ill with cancer, has been clinging on to life for the past week, despite doctors saying at the weekend that she had only hours to live. OK magazine decided to take a gamble that she would die as predicted, and decided to publish this week an exclusive tribute issue to the reality tv star. One problem though: she’s still alive. I honestly thought the first time I saw it advertised that she must have died and went immediately onto Sky News, as I knew it would be a huge story for them if that was the case. But no, Jade wasn’t dead and neither is she now as far as I know.

Now, I can understand a magazine wanting to get an exclusive, but surely, this must be taking things too far? Jade’s family say they don’t mind, but still… It makes me feel uneasy. This is a young woman, with two young sons, fighting for her life. She’s weak, terribly ill and I don’t think it’s right for a magazine to proclaim her dead when she’s still alive. I truly hope that people refrain from buying the issue, so that magazines don’t think it’s acceptable for them to do things like this in the future. And no, I haven’t bought a copy in case you were wondering.

Personally, I have a lot of respect for her for speaking out about her cancer and raising awareness about the importance of smear tests. Yes, the coverage has been OTT and did for a while descend into a media circus, but still, she has done a lot of good. Even within my own group of friends, far too many of them felt too embarrassed to go for one before this, and certainly wouldn’t talk about it to anyone. Now, it’s a topic of conversation and they’ve either been or booked in for one. This is something I’ve always felt very strongly about, mainly for personal reasons. Someone close to me died from this type of cancer a few years ago, just because she was too embarrassed to go to the doctor. Caught early enough, the treatment you need to receive is minimal and abnormal cells can be easily treated. No, it’s not the most pleasant test in the world, but if it saves your life, then it’s worth it. Often, by the time you have symptoms, it’s too late to save you. Why risk that chance?

The same goes for the vaccine that’s now being offered to young girls to protect them against the HPV virus, which can lead to Cervical Cancer. I can’t understand what all the fuss is about. Surely, if parents are being offered something that could save their daughters life one day, then why refuse? It won’t make anyone more promiscuous and it won’t encourage young girls to have sex at an even earlier age. Indeed, I find that argument ridiculous as it doesn’t protect you from falling pregnant or from a multitude of other sexually transmitted diseases. Safe sex is just as necessary, but if we can save 1000 women from dying every year in the UK from one type of cancer, then it should be welcomed with open arms.

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