I’m not too happy with the recent People magazine cover featuring Sharon Osbourne and her son Jack Osbourne, who recently found out he has multiple sclerosis.
The magazine’s cover headline blares: “I Won’t Let My Son Die.” That’s followed by a promo for the exclusive interview: “Sharon and Jack Osbourne on the diagnosis that has the 27-year-old fighting to save his vision, his future and his life.”
A little over-dramatic? I’d say so.
I know that the publishing industry is in a sad state today, and headlines like that help sell magazines. But I just hate the impression that such sensational cover language can leave on readers — especially people who are newly diagnosed with MS (about 200 people get the diagnosis every week) or those who know nothing about the disease.
Those people can easily think that MS is a death sentence, and that’s a perception I’m always fighting to change.
As a mom, I can understand how devastating it would be to find out that your child has MS. But come on, even if MS was imminently deadly, what is Sharon Osbourne really going to do to stop her son’s disease?
I’m also angry that the editors at People would have let such a statement run on its cover. MS is not deadly. Yes, severe MS can shorten life, I’ve seen it first hand. But having MS does not mean you’re going to die. Most people with MS have a normal or near-normal life expectancy, according to the National MS Society.
Interestingly, I had a much different reaction after recently watching Jack Osbourne talk about his diagnosis on TV. I thought he did a very good job of describing the disease to the public and showing a positive attitude (you can watch the clip below).
“I am fine. That’s the toughest thing,” he said on “The Talk.” He went on to explain how MS is a “completely unpredictable disease,” and likened it to the “arthritis of the nervous system,” a good analogy. He said he had bladder problems, vision problems and numbness in his legs before his diagnosis. In some ways, it sounded a lot like my own diagnosis story.
When I posted the TV interview on my Facebook page with a note about how I thought he did a great job, a friend of mine who has MS spoke up, saying she felt he was being overly optimistic and nonchalant about his diagnosis.
“It is a big deal and has drastically changed my life,” my friend commented. “Some of us can’t tolerate all meds the same way and primary progressive MS can move very quickly. I was going to ‘beat it’ in the beginning too, but it proved to be too powerful an opponent for me. Now I trust God and have learned to live with it as best I can.”
I really do feel for Jack Osbourne and I’m thrilled he’s taking control of his MS by being on a disease modifying therapy. I hope that he uses his family’s celebrity status to help accurately inform the public about MS and push forward for a cure.