It was a bit of a twitter flurry the other day, as it seems Autism “spokesperson” Jenny McCarthy was outted as a “fraud”. It seems her son never had Autism, and previously, she had been very vocal about vaccines causing his Autism. I’m not here to talk about the validity of those claims, or argue whether she was right or wrong, as what I do want to discuss involves having someone care enough to speak out in regards to diseases/disorders. As most people with cervical cancer, and cervical dysplasia know, people don’t speak out enough about these health concerns, as our society feels they are inappropriate topics to discuss. Really, people just need time to become comfortable with things I guess, think about breast cancer, it wasn’t that long ago that people felt uncomfortable about discussing this subject. Now, we view supporting women who’ve suffered breast cancer as noble, kind, and just something we all should normally do.
It’s not that way though for those women who suffer cervical issues, anal cancer, or even for men with prostate cancer. Our society has so many issues with sexuality, that I think they can’t yet handle talking about cancer that affects the genital region. And celebrities are very open when they suffer from breast cancer, we see them on posters all the time, at run for the cure, and speaking out in interviews, etc. I don’t notice the same level when it comes to cervical issues, and really I could only find a small handful of celebrities who’ve admitted they have/had cervical cancer. Most celebrities or public figures seem to hide their struggle, or feel embarrassed about discussing them. I read about Judy Blume hiding that 17 years ago she had a hysterectomy due to cervical cancer, and it isn’t that she had to share such private information, but the news was quietly announced recently when she admitted she has breast cancer. We shouldn’t have to hide our feelings, fears, and emotions, or worse yet, not even be told you have cervical cancer, which was often the standard practice 50 years ago.
I’m not trying to say that people must speak out, that they must allow for an invasion of privacy, but what I am saying is it can shed attention onto something that people want to avoid talking about seriously. It seems when celebrities talk about sensitive issues, that the general public becomes more comfortable, and from that more people seek testing or treatment, and I would love to see that happen for cervical dysplasia and cervical cancer. I would love to see celebrities talk about how a routine pap caught minor abnormal changes, urge all women to get a pap smear, and show the world you don’t have to be ashamed. You could see how horrified most people were about Farrah Fawcett dying of anal cancer, and I honestly wonder how much of it was from the simple fact such a beautiful women died of something so “embarrassing”. It’s not embarrassing, it happens, and we should all seek regular testing, and not avoid uncomfortable things like pap smears.
Celebrities can do a lot of damage, and I won’t say whether Jenny McCarthy is a good or bad in her role as a spokesperson, but at least she brought attention to something that did need to be discussed. Same with Michael J. Fox with Parkinson’s, or Ronald Reagan with dementia, or the growing group of celebrities discussing their mental health issues in general. And really, we shouldn’t blindly listen to a celebrity, we should do our own research into all sides of an issue to come out with a balanced opinion. When we speak up things change (albeit slowly), we feel less alone, and less shame, our society feels too much damn shame about natural things (and the resulting societal problems related to sexuality). So let’s discuss the sensitive issues, listen to our friends and family when they suffer, and not be afraid to be real!