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Table of Contents
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 63-64

Disease in a celebrity and celebrity status of the disease

1 Department of Neurosurgery, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Neurosurgery, Paras Hospital, Gurugram, India
3 Department of Neurosurgery, Employees' State Insurance Hospital, Hyderabad, India

Date of Web Publication02-Nov-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Manjul Tripathi
Department of Neurosurgery, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/IJNO.IJNO_410_21

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How to cite this article:
Tripathi M, Yagnick NS, Rangan VS. Disease in a celebrity and celebrity status of the disease. Int J Neurooncol 2021;4, Suppl S1:63-4

How to cite this URL:
Tripathi M, Yagnick NS, Rangan VS. Disease in a celebrity and celebrity status of the disease. Int J Neurooncol [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Aug 7];4, Suppl S1:63-4. Available from: https://www.Internationaljneurooncology.com/text.asp?2021/4/3/63/329805

“One person's medicine, if not understood or weighed properly on its impact and efficacy, may well turn out to be another's poison.”

-NS Goel

The diagnosis of a brain disorder oftentimes lands a future-defining blow to a patient's life with diverse implications from the social, psychological and economic perspectives. Multiple consultations and scrutiny of available treatment options ensue. Neurosurgery may have sounded a lot like the 'last resort' or 'poor prognosis' to the layperson. Still, Sharon Stone's tale of neurosurgical triumph helped to steer the narrative towards improved care and technical competence. “If you act like you know what you're going, you can do anything you want - except neurosurgery” were the words famously used by her to shower praise on the treating team.[1] The numerous advances in neurosurgical care continue to be documented in the ever-expanding ocean of scientific literature. The last five decades have witnessed significant developments in the management of many neurosurgical disorders. There is no dearth of scientific meetings to debate the treatment choices and their individual merits; the public, however, still holds a fairly black and white opinion of the consequences of developing a disease. To a person facing the reality of a serious neurosurgical condition, the story of how a man with clipped mirror aneurysms of the internal carotid arteries in 1988 went on to become the President of USA in 2021, educates and inspires in a way that a scientific publication simply cannot. A younger Mark Ruffalo, still early in his acting career in 2002, shared his experience of suffering from a vestibular schwannoma, with remarkable candor.[2] Grave as the consequences of postoperative facial palsy and deafness maybe for a career in acting, the world witnessed his excellent recovery and later professional growth. 'The hulk', incredibly enough, did not go for gamma ray radiosurgery. Recovering from a “brain tumor” and undergoing “brain surgery” may have been made just a tiny bit less daunting to the general public.

Angelina Jolie, considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, underwent a risk reduction mastectomy in 2013. Challenging the notion of prioritizing bodily aesthetics in a lead actress, this choice shocked the world and roused a general consciousness in public. Women who were hesitant to get treatment due to post-operative aesthetic concerns started accepting mammograms, genetic screening, and preventive surgery.[3] While a lot has been done for increasing public awareness about various physical and mental disorders in recent times, many neurosurgical ailments continue to be clouded by a dense fog of dread and ignorance. It is the age when, thanks to visual media, the faces of celebrities occupy our fields of vision as much as, if not more, than loved ones. Every implant, filler and Botox injection in these familiar figures are googled, researched, and discussed threadbare. Diverting some of this abundant public attention to major illnesses like brain tumors and aneurysms will undoubtedly go a long way in dissolving some of the stigma and fear that defines these diagnoses. These conditions are made common knowledge by tabloids while television channels show panel of specialists evaluating the different treatment options. As a young actor who has just achieved his/her break in the career, however, the pressure to not let any suggestion of unfitness come to light is understandable. It took years, as well as the assurance of an imperishable legacy and an immensely successful career, for Emilia Clarke, the famous actress in the “Game of Thrones,” to speak up about her history with thunderclap headaches. She has shared an intensely personal and a harrowing narrative of her experience with the diagnosis of her ruptured and unruptured aneurysms, successful and unsuccessful coiling, surgical clipping, post-operative neurological deficits including aphasia, persistent fear of death and loss of livelihood; and subsequently, and most importantly, her recovery, return to work, and a successful emergence through all the struggles. All these important health issues were immensely relatable revelations for her fans.

There is an obvious downside to this public discussion of the disease. Analysis of the 'Angelina Jolie' effect proved that awareness of the story was not necessarily associated with improved understanding.[4] Frequently, to those in high-risk professions, losing a basic sensory system may imply the abrupt death of their careers. This emphasizes the need to tailor the treatment to do justice to each individual case. Casual media portrayal or unwarranted sensationalism may prevent clear communication of facts. Treatment choices made for whatever reasons by celebrities with access to top-of-the-line medical care facilities are not to be viewed as ones to be blindly replicated. Incompletely informed, patients may look to an - 'I'll get what the celebrity was getting'- approach. Their larger-than-life screen personas, resistant to relatability as patients, afford celebrity status to the disease itself.

Conversations about the disease sparked by courageous public figures help the average person take on the disease-related fear, guilt or shame, and build positive aspirations. Very vocal celebrities advocating initiatives for the prevention and early diagnosis of disease have a marked impact on societal wellbeing. Even if not lucky enough to be aware of their diagnoses well in time, people at the least, awaken to being watchful about their health [Figure 1].
Figure 1: The beautiful flowers on plants look refreshing and eternal. Their withering, however, exposes their vulnerabilities. It also creates awareness amidst admirers of their own ephemeral health

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Kudos to the celebrities whose permit their 'life to become their message.” Their followers are cautioned to perceive this message strictly according to their own perspective…and not get carried away!

  References Top

Bretts A. Catwoman. Sharon Stone. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2004/08/09/sharon_stone_catwoman_interview.shtml. Accessed on: May 01, 2021  Back to cited text no. 1
Mark Ruffalo Diagnosed His Own Brain Tumor in a Dream. W Magazine. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIQN1It8CdM. Accessed on: April 29, 2021  Back to cited text no. 2
Evans DG, Barwell J, Eccles DM, Collins A, Izatt L, Jacobs C, et al. The Angelina Jolie effect: how high celebrity profile can have a major impact on provision of cancer related services. Breast Cancer Res 2014;16:442.  Back to cited text no. 3
Kosenko KA, Binder AR, Hurley R. Celebrity influence and identification: A test of the Angelina effect. J Health Commun. 2016;21:318-26.  Back to cited text no. 4


  [Figure 1]


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