Today we have an awesome post by Editorial Intern, Leora – who writes about a fascinating and timely topic. A topic that comes onto the radar from in the world of patient advocacy when a celebrity spokesperson “comes out” about having a certain health condition. I’m of the camp that – the best way to reduce stigma is by sharing what’s real – and “coming out” and putting a face and story to a condition is a huge piece of that. The more the general public is aware of others who live every day with something – the more accepting and understanding they will be. However – by no means is it necessary for a celebrity or anyone to be forced to take ownership diagnosis, label, or struggle they are going through privately. But – when they do speak up – their influence can really make a difference. Only time will tell if “coming out” is wholly positive and helpful to new patients and loved ones – but I think it’s a really important leap to make. –Amanda
Jack Osbourne Diagnosed with MS
by Leora Klachkin
When I think of the Osbourne family, I think of the America’s Got Talent judge, Ozzy’s diction (or lack thereof), and the daughter and son duo that lived in this crazy family. Watching them interact with one another in their hit TV show, “The Osbournes”, was a marvel for anyone to see, especially those who came from an oddly normal suburban family like mine. Hey, not all of us are lucky enough to have Ozzy as a father! But when news came out that Jack Osbourne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, it was as if someone I knew personally was diagnosed. This always seems to happen when a celebrity announces their diagnosis. The parasocial friendship kicks in and forces me to remember that yes, celebrities are people too.
The story of Jack’s diagnosis has since been circulating across many media outlets. His brave announcement, for which I am sure was very difficult to announce, led to an outpouring of support for the 26-year-old, and may have even made the general public more aware of MS and the struggles that go along with being newly diagnosed.
Some MS Health Activists, in particular, have also shown support for Jack:
Jodi of Jodi Bean’s Blog
“It is a big deal. MS is a big deal. The more people who are brave enough to share their story the more awareness is raised about MS. I applaud Jack for sharing his diagnosis with the world. ”
Mitch of Enjoying The Ride
“You can take solace in the fact that you are now part of a community of approximately 400,000 Americans, and more than 2.5 million people worldwide who are similarly affected. At some point, after you have adjusted a bit to your new reality, please consider wielding your celebrity to support our collective cause. We can use all the help we can get.”
Lisa Emrich of MS on Health Central
“I applaud Jack Osbourne for putting himself out there like this. Health status is such a private thing and revealing a life-changing diagnosis is a brave thing to do. Already Jack Osbourne has caused many people to read about MS (even if in a superficial way) who would not likely have given the disease a passing thought.”
It is great to see the support and encouragement within the community for Jack. Many other celebrities have announced their diagnoses as well and have worked to support their distinct communities in their own individual ways.
But I wonder how others in the online health community feel about these sorts of media storms. How do you feel about celebrities announcing their diagnosis? How can celebrities “coming out”, like Jack has, impact the community?