Like some of her American counterparts, British reality star Jade Goody – a rough-around-the-edges, hard-drinking contestant on the U.K. version of Big Brother – has made headlines for her antics on and off the air. But these days, her story has gripped the British public for one tragic reason: Goody, 27, is publicly dying of cervical cancer.
Like so much of her life, Goody’s death has turned into a virtual soap opera. Most recently, the former dental nurse from south London and her husband Jack Tweed, an ex-con who was recently convicted of assaulting a taxi driver, were granted special dispensation to spend the night together at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London, where she is undergoing treatment.
The pair hastily wed on Feb. 22, after Goody’s cancer had spread – an event that was televised to raise funds for Goody’s two sons from a previous relationship.
Ultimate Reality Show
Goody, who has lost her hair after chemotherapy, did not wear her wig for the occasion. Her next event will be when she and her two boys, Bobby, 5, Freddie, 4, will be christened this weekend, according to her rep, Max Clifford.
Goody’s sons have not seen her since she returned from her operation on Monday night. “There isn’t a lot of point in bringing them over from Essex only to see mum fast asleep, which is what she is most of the time,” says the rep. “There have been a few visitors. But it’s clear she just wants to be left alone to sleep.”
Goody first entered the spotlight in 2002 on the popular U.K version of Big Brother, where she was ridiculed for her lack of education and free-spirited conduct. That appearance launched many other shows and products, enough to earn her a spot on Celebrity Big Brother in 2007. Goody’s notoriety only expanded when she was accused of making racist comments on-air to another housemate, Indian actress Shilpa Shetty. Goody has since made repeated public apologies for her remarks.
Hero In the End
But now it seems her legacy will live on for another reason. Jo’s Trust, a charity for women with cervical cancer, has greatly benefited from Goody’s openness with her illness, says director Robert Music. “Her story has increased awareness and we have been able to support more people,” he says. Visits to the charity’s website are up almost 100 percent.
“She is honest about her story. She has not shied away from anything – such as her hair falling out or being seen going and coming from hospital,” says Music. “The public have great sympathy for a very young woman who is dying – and leaving two kids.”
• Reporting by SIMON PERRY