The Star Effect: How Celebrity Awareness Brings Lupus to the Forefront
Photo: Nick Cannon, Toni Braxton, and Selena Gomez. Source: Health Magazine.
It used to be that when a celebrity was battling a disease or disorder, they did so behind a closed door, usually hidden away from their fans so that they could keep their privacy intact. At one point in time, there was almost a stigma around talking about someone’s disease and its effect on a person. In fact, it wasn't until John Wayne’s public admission to his battle with lung cancer in 1964, that stars began openly talking about the diseases they have. Since then, more and more celebrities have not only shared their journey and battle scars but have also become advocates for a large number of organizations, movements, and even fellow patients. In their own way, they have played a role in the advancement of medical research and have helped countless people who are suffering from a disease or disorder.
As much as many would prefer to keep their favorite celebs up on a pedestal and protected by an unpenetrable force field that keeps them safe from any kind of mishaps, especially with diseases, the truth of the matter is that no one is invincible. While some celebrities choose to fight their own battle in privacy, think David Bowie and the shock that came with the news of his death, more and more famous people, are bringing their battles out in the open in an attempt to bring about change.
The hidden benefits
Choosing to openly and very publicly battle a disease is not an easy decision and for many stars, this can be fraught with criticism and even public shaming from critics. On the other hand, celebrities who do make the difficult choice to share their personal battle with the public can make a huge positive impact.
For example, one tweet from Selena Gomez famously stunned her fans with only a few short, but powerful words. This past September, she revealed to social media about her receiving a kidney transplant, thanks to her best friend and her lifelong battle with the autoimmune disease. After this, the news about the dangers of lupus had everyone talking, and today, it still remains a hot topic for conversation as organizations have also become advocates because of that one single tweet.
Getting people talking about the disease is considered to be a huge benefit to the disease itself, to the research around it and to the 1.5 million US citizens who suffer from lupus.
Today, lupus could almost be classified as a ‘trendy’ disease, thanks to Gomez and a few other famous people who have come out with their own struggles. Stars like Nick Cannon not only have shared their struggles but have also become spokespersons for lupus, making their fans and organizations more aware of the disease itself.