The news came through today that British reality star Jade Goody lost her very public battle with cervical cancer. She was just 27 years old with young sons aged 5 and 4. She died on Mother's Day.....
I've never been a great television person so to begin with I had no idea who she was but everytime I have been in the UK over the past 9 months Jade Goody was rarely off the front page of the more popular newspapers. (It seems she became a celebrity after appearing on the British version of Big Brother in 2002, polarizing audiences with her brash manner.)
When her cervical cancer was diagnosed last Summer the remaining time she had on this earth was played out very publicly. Her situation touched the hearts of the nation, made people acutely aware of how vital it is to follow up when a hospital calls you back because of abnormal cells being found,
how doctors can fail sometimes and resulted in a dramatic increase in cervical screening in the UK.
Jade went from rather brash to serence and poised. A credit to her strength of character when she knew that her days were so tragically numbered. She always had a brave, beautful smile for the press. Even during her lavish wedding just a few short weeks ago she made no attempt to conceal the ravages of chemotherapy, holding her bald head high and so elegantly.
Bishop Blake who conducted the blessing of her wedding to Jack Tweed said: "She was an extraordinary person, she's become for all of us almost like a saint, a saint of Upshire, a princess from Bermondsey. [...]she's touched so many people not only in this country but across the world." He said she transformed the way people approached cancer by laughing in the face of death and making possible every last dream before she died. "I think that's been an inspiration, a light, a torch of hope burning brightly across the world [...]
The British Prime Minister in his tribute to her said: "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"
I think the TV presenter and author, Stephen Fry, summed it all up in his tribute: "Poor, dear Jade... I warmed to her immensely. All impulsive spirit and smiles. What a life. Jade lived life under a magnifying glass. Magnifying glasses magnify (obviously) but they distort and they burn. I suppose she was a kind of Princess D from the wrong side of the tracks."
Yes she touched my heart too and this post is a further tribute to her courage and a warning to others to never ever ignore symptoms, never ever ignore a letter when a hospital calls you for further tests, never ever be fobbed off by a doctor when your body and your heart tell you that something is wrong. You only have one life - fight to keep it and always strive to make it a worthy one.
Rest in peace Jade.
Click here for the BBC video clip about her life.