Why Celebs Getting Sick Is Good for Us

On the season premiere of Dancing With the Stars, Jennifer Grey had an emotional breakdown over Dirty Dancing co-star, the late Patrick Swayze, and it was truly tear-jerking. She told DWTS partner, Derek Hough, "He was like you, he was young and gorgeous. And he's just gone." While my heart goes out to Grey and to Swayze's widow, Lisa Niemi, and my fellow Dirty Dancing fans everywhere, I have to say that there is some silver lining to the tragic loss of Johnny Castle.

You ask, what in the world could that be?


Well, pancreatic cancer, which claims the lives of 35,000 people in the U.S. annually, is considered a "neglected cancer." In other words, pancreatic cancer research is funded at far lower levels than other forms of cancers. But maybe Swayze's struggle with the disease raised awareness that could hopefully change that. 


Other celebs' sicknesses have taught us valuable health lessons, too.


Lady Gaga

Even if you're not caught in a "Bad Romance" with her, it's hard not to find the native New Yorker-turned-pop-icon intriguing at the very least. I'm personally a big fan, so I was both stunned and concerned to hear back in June that the Mama Monster tested "borderline positive" for Lupus. The autoimmune disease is hereditary and affects one-and-a-half-million Americans, mostly women. The good news: Gagaloo doesn't have any symptoms right now, and a lot of "little monsters" know about the disorder since she spoke up about it to Larry King.


Jade Goody

This vivacious reality star-turned-British celebrity died of cervical cancer at the age of 27. Although I never watched her on Big Brother, it pains me deeply to think how incredibly young she was and how many other young women are at risk for the disease, which can develop from persistent cases of the very common STD, human papillomavirus (HPV). One upshot: A study was released just a couple of weeks ago that found an increased likelihood of women aged 25-64 to be screened for the disease.


Kylie Minogue

I couldn't get the Australian songbird out of my head -- in part thanks to her dance floor-owning pop tracks, but also because she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005. Media coverage was fast and fierce, fans were just fiercely loyal, and in the end, her disease lead to a 20-fold surge in media coverage of the illness, according to one study


Gwyneth Paltrow

Even though I, like The Stir's own Amy Kuras, agree that Moses and Apple's mama needs to shut her yap about osteopenia being a disease, I do appreciate that she blabbed about her postpartum depression. While Hollywood expects twiggy celebs to hit the red carpet svelte and smiley practically days after giving birth, Gwyneth was doing her part to further awareness about the at times debilitating mood disorder that up to 15 percent of women may suffer from after giving birth.




Image via Nevada Tumbleweed/Flickr


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