Somehow it can be just as big an upset when it is someone we don’t know personally but think we do. In other words. someone famous, whose life plays out on the screens in front of us.
Sudden diagnoses happen to us, our friends and to family members.
So why should it come as such a surprise when they are given to others too?
News this week that King Charles is now being treated for cancer has certainly propelled a shockwave of concern across the globe.
The King had been in hospital for a procedure on an enlarged prostate when another form of cancer was discovered.
The public have not been told any more details, other than it is not prostate cancer and that the King has now begun treatment as a regular outpatient.
While able to carry on behind the scenes, holding meetings and dealing with the never-ending red boxes which pass across his desk, he will be handing over public duties and appearances to Prince William and other senior royals.
Judging how severe the King’s condition may be by analysing the official statement of his illness, and by the fact there even was a statement, is somewhat fraught.
That’s because there is little comparison possible with palace announcements of previous illnesses of the Queen and Prince Philip, given they were rarely made (though the Queen Mother used to get fish bones stuck in her throat from time to time).
However, while the King is following through on his ambition to let a little more light into the royals’ lives, it’s probably fair to judge that what has been found amounts to a serious health concern.
Cancer, of course, is always potentially serious, but the palace possibly would not have bothered scaring the horses for the removal of an isolated cancerous mole.
The King should be congratulated for wanting the public to know what is going on with his health. By fronting up and sharing the bad news, and the fact he is now getting treatment, he is letting others in the same predicament see they are not alone but are among many thousands from all walks of life who have faced the same bombshell diagnoses and have options for therapy.
The King is only 75 and on the throne for less than 18 months.
The cancer diagnosis is a cruel blow for someone said to drink alcohol sparingly, eat healthily, who does not smoke, and is fanatical about exercise.
All these factors will hopefully stand him in good stead as he enters his period of treatment and convalescence.
We wish him well with his recovery.
‘You stupid boy’
More sad news this week with the death of British actor Ian Lavender, the last member of the principal Dad’s Army cast to stand easy.
Private Pike was the youngest of the Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard platoon.
A tall, gangly mummy’s boy with a scarf to ward off croup, he never quite realised "Uncle Arthur" or Sergeant Wilson, played by the vague John Le Mesurier, was his dad.
Dad’s Army is one of the best and most enduring of all British television comedies.
Who can forget the ludicrous slapstick situations they often found themselves in while protecting their bastion of Olde England.
The interactions between Private Pike and Arthur Lowe’s bumptious Captain Mainwaring will forever live in our minds, often concluding with Mainwaring’s withering line, "You stupid boy".
Occasionally in life you get a team of talented people who produce something so stunning it deserves to last forever. The cast of Dad’s Army are in that league, as were The Beatles, various sports teams in different codes, and artists and writers whose work gives so much pleasure to millions.
Dad’s Army provided that link to the World War 2 years for those of us whose parents or grandparents served.
It certainly will live on.
Fall out, men.