i Editor's Letter: Get yourself checked out


Click to follow
The Independent Online

There’s no doubt as to the story of the weekend, and I do not mean the endless, somewhat improper — or is it just me?—Budget leaks.

But, even describing Fabrice Muamba’s collapse on the pitch at White Hart Lane with a suspected heart attack as “a story” makes me feel uneasy. Like it or not, that which happens to those in the public eye focuses the public mind to a degree countless anonymous cases cannot. So, the issue of fitness and health and how on earth an athlete as fine as young Muamba can find himself in such an awful situation will be aired — at least until the next juicy gossip emerges from Chelsea or the Etihad. It takes seeing someone so young in such dire circumstances to jolt many out of their apathy regarding health issues they know deep down should demand a good deal more attention than they get.

I was going to write that it’s a man thing — this bizarre reluctance (or is it fear?) of going to the doctor. I include myself in that description. I know I should, and even need to just now for boring administrative reasons, but... I have no excuses. It’s not just men who prevaricate and hide. In the weekend’s other health news, a spike in cervical screening prompted by the reality TV star Jade Goody’s high-profile battle with cancer has been reversed a mere three years after her death Goody had ignored her abdominal pains and other signs that she may have had a serious problem. By the time she was diagnosed, it was too late. Her cancer had spread. In the months she had left to her, Goody campaigned to to publicise the danger of cervical cancer and, apparently, prompted thousands more women to go for screening. That was then.

So, sometimes other people’s sad misfortunes can lead to a greater good, particularly when they are high-profile. It goes without saying that I hope Muamba pulls through. But if any of you have any worries about health, don’t be so British and keep them hidden. You owe it to yourself, and to your nearest and dearest, to get yourself checked out.