Celebrities Are Not Qualified Health Educators (But Some Can Do a Little Good)

I had a great conversation the other day with a friend about, of all things, guests on “Inside the Actor’s Studio”. She’d been excited to catch up on the episodes on her DVR, she couldn’t wait to see a certain big name celebrity. But it turned out he was a giant boring dud. What a disappointment! But she watched her accumulated episodes and landed on one featuring Jim Carey. She was not a fan, prior to watching this episode, that is. Turns out he was pretty clever on the show, and she wound up liking him.

I know how she feels. I used to dislike Pam Anderson. Even though I knew she was a big animal rights supporter, I just could not tolerate her, so I changed the channel when she came on. Except for the time I didn’t. Much to my chagrin I found out she was not an idiot. She has a lot of heart and speaks quite intelligently about the topic so close to her heart (and it helps it is an issue near and dear to me). I won’t go so far as to say I’m a fan, but I admire her now.

I am a news-politics-pop culture junkie. I swallow stories, current events, and scandals whole. But I’m the kind of addict that sits in the corner making the snarky comments about it all. I am not the type to have any kind of hero worship for celebrities, and certainly not for any politicians. It cracks me up when parents get all outraged and start criticizing the pop tartlet of the moment: “Beyonce/Miley Cyrus/Rihanna should be thinking of their young female fans…they are role models, so they shouldn’t date abusers, act silly, shill for a soda company.”

Puh-leeze what world do you live in? Lots of stars go horribly awry and act out. Johnny Cash? Ray Charles? Names ring any bells, folks? I couldn’t bear to watch the biopics featuring their bad behavior…it was just all the same story. Struggle, get famous, get hooked on drugs, hit bottom, find redemption, make a big comeback. Same old movie, over and over again. Today I see on the news that the Biebs is going down the tubes again. How is this news or even remotely surprising? Repeat after me: these people are not role models I don’t care how nice and upstanding they present at first. They are humans; NOT better than any of us.

So where am I going with this complaint? Well, as with Pam Anderson, I’ve found another one I now begrudgingly admire: Fran Drescher.

I NEVER liked her. I DESPISE her voice and laugh, and I doubt that will change. I find the shows she is on just–unfunny. I never found her funny. As with Pam, I generally changed the channel or turned off the TV is she came on. I was dimly aware of her past with cancer and that she had a book or something about it.

So she was on my TV the other day, promoting something, and mentioned her website/foundation, Cancer Schmancer.

Stop right there. One of the most infuriating things in the world are celebrities who get some illness then suddenly start a foundation, or a campaign to raise funds/awareness/or some other benevolent action. There are those two rocker/country women who I used to sort of be ok with (can’t say I liked their tunes much), who write their own songs, actually singing them live on TV shows (unlike some mentioned above), and play guitars (they are separate solo artists, I do not mean to imply they are a duo). Both women got breast cancer at different times, and they embraced Big Pink.

I no longer like them AT ALL.

Hell, I’m even suspicious of celebrities who shill for prescription drugs. Yeah, that’s gonna make me want your product: and overpaid celebrity, getting paid even more by an obscenely wealthy pharmaceutical company. And don’t get me started on some big name model (sorry, in this case I actually forgot her name) who was in a car accident and went through a long recovery. She is back now and her publicist, manager, or who knows what entity, thinks she needs to make a comeback splash by associating herself with some likable health cause. So she goes on TV and proclaims blood donors saved her life. Granted, she needed the blood, but didn’t the doctors have a hand in it? Yeah, yeah, doctors are rich (so they don’t need a fundraiser), and are not popular enough to warrant fuzzy warm televised shout outs. But how about start a college scholarship fund for poor kids who have an aptitude for science who might become great doctors, or great researchers, if they had enough funds to get to college, or better yet support some of these young geniuses I hear about like Jack Andraka, coming up with better ways to test for cancers, but who had to struggle to get the “established” scientific community to pay attention to his invention?

So I finally made my way over to the Cancer Schmancer website. I have not yet had a long enough opportunity to explore it fully, but from what I did manage to see (thanks crappy internet connections that keep cutting out every time I want to go to a new page), looks like the stuff I believe in. Lots of info about the unhealthy additives in the products we use, info about environmental causes of cancer. Sigh, of course, there are still places to click that say “shop” or “what you can do”–as in how to avoid buying products with harmful ingredients, which are more prominent than the links telling us how to pressure industry from putting them in products at all (remember, it is up to the individual–so if you get cancer it is YOUR fault–yes I’m being sarcastic), pushing the concept that early detection saves lives, and we in (breast) cancer world know that some cancers, no matter how early they are caught will stubbornly be fatal, and my favorite–how to “prevent” cancer through diet and exercise…as if that info were not available everywhere else in cancerworld.

So, yes, I now admire Fran Drescher, because she is doing something intelligent and useful, unlike ABC news and/or Brooke Burke-Charvet with their stupid confusion of the words “prevention” and “early detection” (yes I will keep picking on them until they figure out the differences in these concepts and stop spreading lies to viewers). I will be happy to point the uninitiated-to-cancer to her website. Best of all, her website is a “gateway website”, leading to websites like Breast Cancer Fund (it takes a little searching, but I’ve seen the link), which features more heavy hitting info, and a staff of non-celebrities, who work it in the trenches everyday to do their part to fight cancer. They may not be famous celebrities, but their contributions are more important.

Author: Cancer Curmudgeon

Oct 2010 diagnosed with Stage 3, HER2+ Breast Cancer. Completed treatment Jan 2012. Waaaaaay over pink. Applying punk rock sensibility to how I do cancer.

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