Saturday, June 27, 2009

Farrah's gift - outing the tumor that dare not speak its name

via San Francisco Chronicle, by Doc Gurley

Even now, most of Farrah Fawcett's obits genteelly - and obtusely - refer to her terminal illness as merely "cancer." Three years ago, when she was diagnosed, Farrah Fawcett's illness was marked with secrecy because of her tumor's location and type. Rectal/anal* cancer is one of the few remaining malignancies whose victims still continue to suffer twice - both from the disease, and the stigma.

Not so long ago, women similarly got tumors in their "female organs" - at least they did where I grew up in the South. That kind of secrecy left listeners not knowing even if people were talking about an above-the-waist disease, or a below-the-waist disease. We can all agree that voyeurism is an ugly human trait, and valid points could be made about whether anyone has a right to know that much detail about anyone's illness. But we have since discovered, thanks to Magic Johnson, Katie Couric, and others, that de-stigmazing body parts and illnesses can, literally, save lives.

The same is true for rectal/anal cancer. And Farrah Fawcett suffered in front of the camera, playing out her battle with disease, and even her decline - and, by doing so, outing her serious illness.

Read the rest.

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