Who Will Be the Next Celebrity Face of Cancer?

When celebrities are diagnosed with cancer, they wield great power to bring awareness to the disease but being in the public eye must be extremely challenging, especially when facing a personal health crisis.

There are so many celebrities who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. After the recent death of icon, Olivia Newton-John, I wondered who might become the next celebrity face of cancer.

Newton-John was well loved and known all over the world for her smooth singing voice and wonderful acting skills. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she shared publicly about the disease and how it was affecting her life. I followed along with particular interest to her alternative health treatment choices.

Another well-known celebrity, actress Kathy Bates, also brought attention to the world of breast cancer when she shared her diagnosis. She also became an advocate for lymphedema, a common side effect post cancer. She became my hero as she worked to legislate bills providing necessary medical equipment for those suffering from lymphedema. As a person whose lymphatic system has been compromised due to breast cancer surgery and treatment, I was thankful for her willingness to bring the condition to the public eye.

There have been many celebrities, both men and women, who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. Some have chosen to share their diagnoses publicly and some have kept their stories private. Of those who’ve opted to share, are some of my personal favorites: musician/singer/songwriter, Sheryl Crow; actress, Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”); singer/songwriter, Carly Simon; comedienne, Wanda Sykes; and actor, Hugh Jackman. These are only a few of the many celebrities who’ve stepped forward, but these are ones I’ve followed.

Celebrities know, when their careers first begin, that the majority of their lives will come under public scrutiny, but they do it anyway. When a health crisis occurs, they have the choice to either share openly or keep the news hidden.

I respect them either way, but wonder if they realize the great responsibility that accompanies a public announcement of a cancer diagnosis?

I’ve often wondered, if I were in their shoes, how I would react? Would I want my fans to know every detail about my diagnosis, treatment and recovery periods or would I prefer to keep my health battle private?

In thinking about that, it might be a good idea to use my platform to bring awareness. But if I did, I’d have to be very careful in what I shared and when. I’d want to present a truthful representation of my fight against cancer instead of portraying it as another acting role — one where I could smile through every aspect of the disease and look great doing it!

On the other hand, I might choose to keep my news private. That way, I could control the intimate details of my life and not feel like it was an open book.

We can’t fault celebrities for their choices.

As a survivor of breast cancer, I feel it incumbent upon myself to support celebrities whether they choose to divulge their health information in public forums or if they choose to remain silent.

It would be difficult to imagine life as a celebrity and I’m thankful it’s not a life I’ve chosen. I don’t think I could manage to tolerate every second of my day being broadcast or filmed for constant scrutiny and criticisms.

Who will be the next celebrity face of cancer? It’s sad to say, but it seems we have a new one every year. Whoever it is, I pray they’ll be treated with kindness, love and respect. No one deserves to be disparaged over a very personal, painful, life-altering disease.

For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.