Saturday, May 24, 2008

Talk of the Nation: Reaction when public figures become ill or disabled

Elizabeth Edwards talks to a Senate committee about cancer.

NPR's "Talk of the Nation" delved into public reaction when public people become ill or disabled in its May 23 discussion called "When Public Figures Get Sick."

"These days, with 24/7 media, the illness of a public figure quickly becomes a major story -- for instance, the news this week that Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has a brain tumor. Another recent example is Elizabeth Edwards' battle with breast cancer," Tom Reagan writes of the show's Blog of the Nation Web site.

"Often these illness can lead to a great deal more information about a particular illness making its way into the public mind share. Past examples include; the late-Mickey Mantle's liver replacement and what it did for raising awareness of organ donation; 'Magic' Johnson's battle with HIV/AIDS reduced the stigma associated with the disease; and the late President Reagan's battle with Alzheimer's made more people aware of it's debilitating effects."

The show also discussed polio survivor FDR and the heart attack of President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955.