People with FM fall into a wide range of functioning abilities. Freeman appears to be fairly high-functioning since he continues to work and play golf. The article did note, however, that he has had to give up several activities that he loved. On the other hand, some people with FM are completely disabled, unable to handle even basic self-care tasks. The rest of us fall somewhere in between. While Freeman’s activity level should not preclude him from representing people with FM, I would hope that part of his message would be to describe just how debilitating FM can be and to explain that different patients have different levels of disability.
Frankly, I think the fact that he is a man with FM is a positive thing. Whether we like it or not, when it comes to health issues, men are still given more credibility than women. Studies have shown that health care professionals are more likely to take a man’s symptoms seriously, but attribute a woman’s symptoms to emotional causes. Although the acceptance of FM has come a long way in recent years, there are still some people, including some medical professionals, who don’t believe it is real. Therefore, having a well-known and highly respected man like Morgan Freeman speak out about FM might help improve our credibility among the doubters.
Given the repeated urgings to step up and be a spokesperson for fibromyalgia, I sometimes wonder if Freeman wishes he had never mentioned it. He probably never dreamed uttering that one word in the middle of a multi-hour interview would ever garner so much attention.
In our enthusiasm to have a prominent celebrity like Morgan Freeman speak out on our behalf, I think we need to keep in mind how doing so could impact his life. Years ago celebrities did everything in their power to keep any health problems secret because revealing an illness could ruin their careers. Although Hollywood seems to be a little more accepting these days, I suspect there is still some hesitation about casting an actor who has a known health issue. And even if his career is not a major concern, Freeman strikes me as the kind of man who prefers not to dwell on his pain and what he can’t do but rather to push ahead and focus on what he can do.
Yes, it would be wonderful if Morgan Freeman would decide to become an advocate for fibromyalgia. The entire FM community would welcome him with open arms. His support could do wonders for increasing awareness and raising money for research. But ultimately it’s a personal decision – each of us has to decide what is best for our lives at any given point in time. While I hope he’ll choose to use his celebrity to help others with FM, I’ll respect his decision either way.
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Source: By Karen Lee Richards retrieved from ProHealth.com