Monday, May 6, 2019

Do Celebrities Owe Us Health Information? Prince Harry & Meghan Markle, for example

It's all over the news - a new royal has been born. Prince Harry's glowing announcement of his son's birth was delightful. He was awed and in love. But how much does he owe the public about the details and photos, and everything else people want to know?

There was a lot of discussion when people realized that Meghan Markle's delivery wasn't going to be done the same way as her sister-in-law's. Catherine/Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, was pushed into the spotlight hours after the birth of her three children. Many felt her appearance was unfair to both her and women around the world who know it's not common to look so spectacular after having a baby. Yet, many others felt it was their right to know about Baby Cambridge when he or she did arrive.

We also see this when celebrities become ill or are injured in some way. Some famous people choose to speak out early, often to beat gossip. The most recent example is Alex Trebek, who spoke out about his pancreatic cancer diagnosis and, most recently, about depression and other issues that surround living with such a serious disease. And when they die, the public also wants to know why. Luke Perry and John Singleton both died after having a stroke. This seemed all the more tragic because of their young age. But other times, celebrities die and the cause is never announced. Their fans are curious, but the family may prefer to keep quiet.

Do those in the public eye owe it to anyone to share their health news? Some argue that if people choose to live publicly, all bets are off. And to be fair, when a celebrity does share a diagnosis, public awareness skyrockets. Parkinson's disease saw a big increase in awareness after it became known that Muhammed Ali and Michael J. Fox had/have it. When awareness grows, so does screening, diagnosis, and treatment. Donations for research may increase and this all works for the better. But if someone is living with a serious illness, publicity is an added stress - one that can make life much more difficult.

I have to admit, I was delighted for Prince Harry. I have a soft spot for him. I still picture him walking behind his mother's coffin. As rich and privileged as he is, losing your mom at that age is devastating. So to see him happy pleases me. But do I have to know? No, I don't. And if he chooses to keep certain details secret, then I feel that is his choice. Life will go on, whether we know about Baby Sussex or not.

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