Monday, March 26, 2012

Brain Tumor Celebrities

Who is the celebrity face of brain tumors and why do we need a “celebrity” brain tumor spokesperson?  That’s a pair of questions that Michael Finley asked in a nifty article entitled, “Celebrity Brain Tumors” in 1999.  

He wrote the article after he submitted a piece to, I’m guessing, USA Today, which he entitled "How to tell your kids you have a brain tumor." The publication liked his submittal but rejected it saying “…I'm afraid we have to say no. There are so people with ailments of one sort or another, that we have made the editorial decision to focus on first-hand accounts of celebrities only."

He observed, quite correctly I believe, that “What a stupid world we live in… that requires the additional ‘juice’ of fame to pay attention to a story that is already about life and death.”

Here’s a conversation that was reported to him from his support group that, even if it isn’t completely accurate, has a lot of human insights: "What is it," asked one group member, "that keeps famous people from wanting to acknowledge their brain tumors? Is it a desire for privacy, or fear of scary publicity, or not feeling up to the demands of being a spokesperson?"
"I'll bet they're just scared shitless and feeling sick as hell," said another member. "They see their lives going down the toilet, they've been healthy as horses all their lives, and don't think they have what it takes to reach out and help other people."

The support group went on to list celebrities that have had brain tumors. Here’s some of their list:
  • Bob Marley
  • Lee Atwater
  • Charles Grodin
  • Dirk Benedict
  • Francois Truffaut
  • Gene Siskel
  • Joseph Biden
  • Pat Paulsen
  • Pete Rozelle
  • Roddy McDowell
  • Sandy Duncan
Here’s a like to Mr. Finley’s article: http://mfinley.com/tumor/bt-celebrity.htm  

Wikipedia also has their own list posted at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_brain_tumor_patients

My sense is that this list is a bit dated, and would love to hear from those of you who can add to the list or nominate victims who should be the “face” of brain tumors to the rest of the world.

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