Advocates wishing to raise awareness for health issues can only hope for a celebrity to champion the cause. Katie Couric raised awareness for colon cancer and Angelina Jolie is raising awareness for women’s health issues.
In our circles of family, friends, and acquaintances, we all have stories of people who developed cancers at various ages and some of them survived and some of them unfortunately did not. The closer to our inner circle these people were, the more it impacted us, and the more likely we were to be proactive about that particular disease.
Interestingly, celebrities seem to occupy a special celebrity circle and their stories and struggles carry a weight equal to those of our inner circle. Perhaps we feel this way because their private lives get splashed across tabloids and talk shows, so they occupy common conversation.
For those celebrities who recognize their ability to impact people and care to do so, they can make a much bigger ripple than we can with our inner circle and Facebook friends. Katie Couric did this when her husband died of colorectal cancer sixteen years ago. She chose to become a champion for colorectal screenings so that other families would not have to endure the devastating loss she did. Angelina Jolie underwent a double mastectomy earlier this year as a preventative measure because of her likelihood of developing breast cancer. Recent news releases talk about another upcoming surgery to prevent the 50% chance of ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer because symptoms often became apparent so late in the process that chances of a cure are poor. However, this is a misconception and the symptoms are there if people know what to look for. Angelina Jolie may very well raise the awareness of the symptoms and the opportunity for women to take charge of their health and not be surprised and devastated should this cancer affect them in late stages.
Angelina Jolie knows she has star power. She knows people will listen to what she says. She knows she can have a major impact on women’s health issues and improving awareness and outcomes. She did not choose to have the genetic makeup she has, but her approach to facing her issues is the best thing to happen to women’s health in a long time.