"In dissecting the illnesses of these famous people, Dr. Lerner brilliantly separates science from the mythologized, bravely battling celebrity. Riveting reading."

Lynn Redgrave and Annabel Clark, authors of Journal: A Mother and Daughter's Recovery from Breast Cancer

 

"It's odd: When a celebrity falls ill, the illness becomes a celebrity, and public life democratized is made generally useful.Barron Lerner has created a fascinating book of this original observation."

Roger Rosenblatt

 

CONTACT: For further information, or to schedule an interview, contact

Susannah Greenberg Public Relations, (212) 208-4629, publicity@bookbuzz.com

 

 

 

 

Attention: Journalist, Producer, Editor, Reviewer

 

When Illness Goes Public:

Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine

 

CONTACT: For further information, or to schedule an interview, contact Susannah Greenberg Public Relations,(212) 208-4629, publicity@bookbuzz.com

SUBJECTS: Celebrities/ Health & Medicine/ Book News

INTERVIEW: Barron H. Lerner is the author of the forthcoming book, When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine (Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2006). Lerner is a physician and the Angelica Berrie-Gold Foundation Associate Professor of Medicine and Public Health at Columbia University. His other books include Contagion and Confinement, also published by Johns Hopkins, and The Breast Cancer Wars, winner of the 2006 William H. Welch Medal of the American Association for the History of Medicine and a notable book of the American Library Association.


"The information gleaned from the anecdotal case of a celebrity illness can be as influential as expert medical advice in a personal health crisis for the average American," says Columbia University physician and historian Barron Lerner, author of When Illness Goes Public: Celebrity Patients and How We Look at Medicine (Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2006), an insightful look at both the culture of celebrity and the history of Medicine since 1935, from Lou Gehrig to Lance Armstrong.

 

The cases discussed in the book include:

  • Lou Gehrig: Did the Yankee slugger know he was dying? What did his doctors actually tell him?
  • Margaret Bourke-White: Why did the famous photographer with Parkinson's disease volunteer to be a guinea pig for experimental brain surgery?
  • Brian Piccolo: What facts about his illness and death were left out of the well-known movie, "Brian's Song"?
  • Steve McQueen: Did the actor's clandestine unorthodox treatment in Mexico almost cure his cancer?
  • Rita Hayworth: How did her doctors and friends completely miss the fact the actress had Alzheimer's disease?
  • Libby Zion: Why did her father believe that his only daughter had been "murdered" by overtired and unsupervised doctors-in-training?
  • Arthur Ashe: Did the media have the right to "out" the AIDS diagnosis of a retired athlete?
  • Lorenzo Odone: Did Lorenzo's Oil really save the lives of boys with a crippling neurological disease, and who got to decide if it worked, doctors or parents?


Why do stories of celebrity illness have such a powerful influence on patient decision-making? Why do patients and their families often put more faith in the case of an individual famous patient than in randomized controlled trials? How does the media both report--and distort -- the facts of famous medical cases? Dr. Lerner answers these questions and more in When Illness Goes Public.

 

The book tells the story of thirteen famous patients diagnosed and treated over the past seventy-five years. Some were already famous when they became sick, and then found themselves uncomfortably in the media's glare. Others became famous because their treatments were unique, often last-ditch efforts to save their lives from rare, usually fatal diseases.

 

While celebrity illnesses have informed patients about treatment options, ethical controversies, and scientific proof, they have also assumed mythical characteristics that may mislead the sick and their families. Marrying great storytelling with an exploration of the intersection of science, journalism, fame, and legend, Dr. Lerner's book, When Illness Goes Public, is a groundbreaking contribution to our understanding of health and illness.

 

Further information is available at: www.press.jhu.edu and

http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/title_pages/9177.html

 

CONTACT: For further information, or to schedule an interview, contact Susannah Greenberg Public Relations,

(212) 208-4629, publicity@bookbuzz.com