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When Elvis Medrano, professional boxer once ranked top 10 in the world, revealed he has chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), a wave of empathy and validation washed over the PH community. “Wow. Even him, too?”
Three things happen for us when a public figure opens up about a diagnosis and shares the fact of their chronic illness with us.
First, they help to destigmatize the disease. The condition becomes more visible and relatable. Suddenly, we see our friends and family changing their attitudes toward our condition, and even toward us.
Second, we feel more hopeful and inspired in our own life. Knowing that a celebrity athlete is facing the same day-to-day struggles we do, all while under the glare of stardom, we are more endeared toward them. We especially feel a connection when they use their voice to bring visibility to PH.
Finally, we feel empowered by the will of public figures to step forward and take control of the narrative about their condition under intense media scrutiny. When they show the world what it means to live with PH, they offer a roadmap and inspire confidence for how we might do the same.
Whether famous or not, the public acknowledgment of one’s disease is a brave act in the face of the stigma of chronic disease. As PH awareness spreads, acceptance soon follows.
Is there a notable person who has inspired you? How do you feel about celebrities discussing their condition? Share in the comments below or post on myPHteam.
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