Medicine And The Media

A very public death

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 01 February 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:383
  1. Naomi Craft, medical journalist and general practitioner
  1. London

    I have often wondered what I would do if I had just been told that I had only a short time left to live. Perhaps I would spend all my savings in one last hedonistic fling. Or perhaps I would spend the time organising my affairs to ease the administrative burden on the executors of my will. I imagine that it is more likely that I would simply decline into despondency. All these are predictable responses. Far less expected is the response of a growing group of people who, when faced with this news, choose to offer their experience for public scrutiny by writing a personal account of their illness and publishing it in a newspaper or magazine.

    In the past year many of us will have read Clare Vaughan's compelling Personal View in the BMJ in which she describes her response to having disseminated breast cancer (BMJ 1996;313:565). Martyn Harris's “On the Sick” columns in the Spectator and the Daily Telegraph, which record his experiences of lymphoma, and Oscar Moore's PWA column (person with AIDS) in the Guardian provide further examples of the …

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