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Jade Goody

British TV Star Jade Goody Dies After Influential Battle With Cancer

March 22, 2009 01:42 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
British reality TV star Jade Goody's high-profile battle with cervical cancer raised awareness of the disease and forced the public to confront death.

Reality Star Jade Goody Dies

Goody, a 27-year-old mother of two, died in her home early Sunday morning after a public battle with cervical cancer.

She rose to fame in 2002 while appearing on the reality show “Big Brother.” Her behavior on the show “personified a dumbed-down Britain, with her televised displays of self-confessed ignorance, bad language and bullying,” writes the BBC, but she became a tabloid star and used her fame to open a beauty salon and sell a fragrance and autobiography.

In August 2008, while filming an Indian reality show, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Hoping to raise money for her two sons, she made deals with tabloids and television programs to document her battle with the disease.

Pictures of the bald, frail Goody filled the tabloids as her publicists released daily updates of her health. Living TV filmed documentaries of her struggle, while ITV1 hosted a sit-down interview with her. Her wedding last month was filmed by Living and pictures of the wedding were sold to OK Magazine for a reported £700,000.
Though some criticized her for profiting off her death, she has raised awareness of her disease, especially among young women. British clinics have reported 20 to 50 percent increases in women seeking cervical smear tests, and the government is considering lowering the age at which women begin screening from 25 to 20.

“She will be remembered fondly by all who knew her and her family can be extremely proud of the work she has done to raise awareness of cervical cancer, which will benefit thousands of women across the UK,” said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the Daily Mail reported.

The Daily Mail cited other media reports that Goody had "been in a coma-like state for two days prior to her death." She died at 3:14 a.m. local time, and the newspaper said that within minutes of the news breaking, mourners arrived at her home with flowers.

Today is Mother's Day in Britain.

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Opinion & Analysis: Goody’s legacy

Allison Pearson of the Daily Mail wrote last month that while Goody’s decision to open her life to the media was questionable, she had done a great service in publicizing her disease.

“Like most mums, I put my health needs at the bottom of the family to-do list, somewhere below worming the cat,” she wrote. “Well, not any more. Staying alive for my children has suddenly shot to the top of that list of priorities. I have Jade Goody to thank for that.”

On Sunday, after news of her death broke, writers contemplated Goody's life and legacy. The Guardian’s Libby Brooks and The Daily Telegraph’s Damian Thompson said Goody also forced British society to confront death.

Brooks writes, “I suspect that she prompted many more women and men to contemplate, perhaps only for a moment, the certainty of their own deaths and the deaths of those close to them. …  In a society that has few established rituals left for facing death and its aftermath, that still struggles to know how to respond to grief, this is a service.”

Thompson believes that Goody’s death exposed the “inhuman response” of British youth towards death. “Jade belonged to the first generation of Britons who have been raised without religion and the meaning it ascribes to death. A streak of callousness goes with being young, and always has done; but the peculiar brutality shown by twentysomethings towards the cancer-stricken Jade, for no better reason than that they didn't like her, is a miserable and worrying sign of the times.”

Biography: Jade Goody

Jade Cerisa Lorraine Goody was born on June 5, 1981, in London. She had a difficult childhood; her father left the family when she was two and her mother abused drugs. Jade spent time in foster care did not receive a proper education.

In 2002, while working as a dental nurse, the 21-year-old Jade was chosen to appear on “Big Brother.” She became famous for her “astonishing ignorance” and confrontational behavior, becoming the show’s most popular and divisive figure.

She continued appearing on reality shows and in the tabloids, and released a perfume and autobiography as her fame grew. In 2007, while appearing on “Celebrity Big Brother,” she referred to Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty as “Shilpa Poppadom,” prompting accusations that she was racist.

She was vilified in the media and her popularity plummeted. She tried to rehab her image through a public relations campaign in India and she agreed to appear on “Bigg Boss,” an Indian version of “Big Brother.” However, just two days into filming, she learned that she had cervical cancer.

Reference: Women’s health information

The findingDulcinea Women’s Health Web Guide has important resources for women to monitor and take responsibility for their health.

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