When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine
by Barron F Lerner.
Public War – Private Battle
There are very few books that cause me to stop and pause while reading the introduction and subsequently, the conclusion. “When Illness Goes Public” is one of them. Not because of the subject matter – notable people fighting their illness in public – but because the author cites Lance Armstrong as one of those celebrities.
I’m not calling into question that Lance fought cancer and won, but I am calling into question the books praise upon him and his Tour de France “accomplishments.” Had I not previously read the book, I might have just tossed the book aside because by invoking his name as an example, the author’s basic premise has been undermined.
And that started me thinking about how those books or medical articles that cited Lance’s heroic struggle with cancer and winning races will be perceived in the future.
Anyway, to the book.
As the title says, this is a book chronicling of famous people and their illnesses or in the case of Libby Zion, their deaths being played out in the public (whether they wanted it to or not) and what we can learn from their struggles. Many books on illness and disease focus more on the doctors and science behind the sickness, here, the focus is squarely on the victim and how she or he faces the inevitable.
When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine by Barron F Lerner is an easy book to read, an excellent book for someone not versed in medicine or medical history who wants a more human side. On my initial read, I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and I haven’t changed my opinion.
Except for one and that’s how I feel about Lance Armstrong.
(Review published on 06 April 2014)