Jade Goody Documentary Highlights Important Message About Cervical Cancer
A decade on from Jade Goody's death, she's still a character who divides Britain.
She was once dubbed the "most hated women in Britain," but now, the same people are branding her a "misunderstood hero," lamenting her tragic cancer journey and the vilification she faced at the hands of the media.
The first instalment of Channel 4's three-part documentary, 'The Reality Star Who Changed Britain' addressed her heartbreaking early life. It gave a painful glimpse into Jade's difficult childhood - watching her father inject drugs at a young age and being raised by her mother, who was also an addict.
Plus, it showed the media circus in the very worst of lights, splashing headlines onto the screen in which she was branded a "chav" and a "pig" by the papers, even before she landed herself at the centre of a racism scandal.
Fans reacted in awe as journalist Kevin O'Sullivan grinned and declared that he saw Jade as a "gift," and Davina McCall expressed her heartbreak at watching a young woman "put her foot in it" in front of the nation.
"This is tough and heartbreaking to watch," one wrote as her backstory unfolded.
While another added: "Seeing Jade through 2019 glasses is so shocking - how young she really was, the headlines, the hatred".
But while some expressed their sympathy for the reality star, it's also understandable that others just couldn't get past the comments she went on to make towards Shilpa Shetty on the 2002 show.
So, what message can we take from Jade Goody's tragic life if it isn't the she's a hero or a villain?
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Whatever you think of Jade or her actions, one thing that can't be denied is her cervical cancer journey inspired action in millions of women.
Despite being the subject of intense scrutiny, in 2009, Jade shared her final hours with the world - from the moment she lost her hair to her final hospital trip with her sons, Bobby and Freddie.
And it had a profound effect.
Following her eight month battle with the illness, the number of women aged between 25 and 29 getting smear tests increased by a third, and was even dubbed 'The Jade Goody Effect'.
Looking back on her astounding impact, Kate Sanger, Head of Communications, Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, said: "Jade Goody's high profile cervical cancer diagnosis and tragic death had a big impact on cervical screening attendance in the UK with around 400,000 extra women booking a test."
But sadly, the amount of women getting tests is now falling year on year. In fact, in 2018, it was the lowest it has been in 21 years - since 1997.
Cervical cancer screenings are available on the NHS for women aged 25 or over, and take just minutes to get done at your doctors or a local sexual health centre.
You only need to get checked every three to five years, and Jade's heartbreaking story is evidence of how invaluable this can be.
"Cervical screening is not always easy and there are lots of reasons women can find it a difficult test, however it's the best protection against cervical cancer," Kate added.
"If you are worried about your test or the results, there is lots of support and information out there for you including our free helpline: 0808 802 8000".
Reflecting on Jade's impact after watching the documentary, one fan poignantly said: "Say what you want about Jade Goody but her story and realness helped thousands upon thousands of women get screened and treated against cervical cancer before it was too late," one Twitter user wrote after watching the show.
"She made mistakes in life but I will always commend her for that".
Featured Image Credit: PA