Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Pop or Other Idols?

Perhaps the most enduring, positive feature of blogs is the ability to stimulate debate on topics that may not be popular. I'm into that today.

Yesterday saw the return of the Pop Princess, Kylie Minogue, to the stage in Sydney after a long battle with breast cancer. It would be churlish in the extreme to denigrate her suffering or her determination to overcome disease and return to normal life. I will not do it. But, more important that Kylie's personal victory over disease, is her “power” to inspire others to succeed in their own battles. Here, she has failed – and failed miserably and dangerously.

What is dangerous and miserable about Kylie taking stage in Sydney? She presents not only an unrealistic image of suffering but also a monumental apathy towards the situations and suffering of normal 35 year old women who may be stricken with this terrible disease.

She seems to be saying, “Wow, I've beaten breast cancer, and I'm going straight back to the vacuous life of a pop star.” Is she oblivious to the discordant note she is sounding? Most 35 year old women who conquer cancer return to their family with a determination to pick up their domestic life and make the most of it. Kylie has no domestic life, and she is no “Princess”. She is a 35 year old raunchette. Unrealistic role model raunchette at that. She should grow up and make the most of what time she has left. Hopefully, she is “cured” but that is not a word that is easily applied to breast cancer. She would be a better role model if she quit the pop industry and raised a family. That's what most 35 year olds' might aspire to if they “beat” this terrible disease.

At the same time, Jane Tomlinson continues to astound all. She cycles across the U.S.A. and from Rome to home. She runs marathons. She enters and completes “iron-man” competitions. She tirelessly raises monumental sums for cancer research. She is a marvel.

The real marvel is: this woman has been terminally ill with breast cancer for about six years. Yes, count them, six!

She is the only person with incurable cancer to complete a full Ironman (4km Swim, 180Km bike ride and full marathon – to be done inside 17 hours). Has completed two half Ironmans, the London Marathon 3 times (She’s the only person to do the marathon whilst on Chemotherapy), the New York Marathon and three London Triathlons.

Awarded the MBE by the Queen in 2003, winner of the Helen Rollinson Award at the BBC in 2002, twice recognised at the Sportswoman of the Year Awards, won a Great Briton Award and voted the most Inspirational Woman in Britain in 2003.

A comment from the ubiquitous internet: The terminal cancer tag is just for fund raising, media, publicity.... Go down to the cancer ward and they'll tell you that terminal means a few weeks left to go. Jane (fortunately for her) got the wrong diagnosis and could more correctly termed a 'cancer sufferer' or 'in remission'. Terminal cancer sufferers do not do Ironmans, Triathlons, they die.

This is not the only negative comment you can find about Jane on the net.

My concern is how her heroic exploits – never mind the vagarities of human illnesses (cancer covers a multitude of sins!) - affect the many cancer suffers who are bed-ridden and in terminal decline – too ill to get up, much less run a marathon.

So, whilst I must applaud her charity efforts – she has raised over one million pounds for Cancer research – I'm skeptical about her impact on other suffers. I would be more appreciative of her efforts if she focused more on the debilitating effects of cancer on the majority of suffers rather than her exploits, however courageous.

Last word to a disgruntled netizen: I think it is absolutely disgusting what you have been writing about Jane Tomlinson. She is the most courageous woman I have ever met. Do you realise that her children and family may search on her name and find your website looking for stories about their mum. I am disgusted that there are people out there like you. You should be ashamed of yourselves. What goes around comes around and I hope it certainly does in your case.

You choose!

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