Saturday, March 24, 2007

Cancer and Politics

Haven't written about cancer in a while. That's probably a good thing, since after way too much involvement with it last couple of years, we've been blessedly untouched by it for a bit.

Then came the news this week that Elizabeth Edwards, wife of presidential candidate John Edwards, has had a recurrence of her breast cancer, which has now metastasized and is deemed incurable. And suddenly, cancer and how people deal with it isn't just news, it's a political football. At best, the pundits want to analyze the effect of the announcement on the campaign. At worst, the sleazebags try to capitalize on it, casting aspersions and making accusations.

I find this piece, by Jane Hamsher of FireDogLake, quite compelling. It's particularly poignant, given that Hamsher is herself dealing with a recurrence of breast cancer. She does a good job explaining the behavior of Mr. Limbaugh and his ilk that I wouldn't even touch.

The idea that there is somehow a correct or proper way to deal with cancer in your life or your family is absurd. It is ridiculous to condemn or second-guess anyone for the way they choose to cope with what will potentially be the last years of their lives together. It is particularly irksome to read these hit pieces by people who have no particular knowledge of the people or the situation involved: they just project their opinions, their prejudices, or their political preferences onto people who already have much more than enough to deal with.

Dealing with cancer is not about living up to other expectations. It's about living. And you do it on your terms, as best you can. It's unbelievably hard to do under the best of circumstances, much less under the microscope now applied to those in public life.

I wish nothing but the best to the Edwards family; my heart goes out to them. And I hope some other people will be able to learn a little bit about how life works.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

I always admired the way Elizabeth Edwards spoke of her husband at the 2004 the Democratic convention. They seem to have an extraordinary relationship, and it doesn't suprise that this couple would decide to continue with this campaign, even under these circumstances.

Way back in July 2004 she said:

You know, I married the smartest, toughest, sweetest man I know. And in two days, we will celebrate 27 years of marriage.

The way we always do. We'll do it the way we always do at Wendy's.

Whether it's Wendy's or Washington, I've found that it's true: It's not where you go, it's who you go with.

But none of the things I've mentioned are the reason that I married John Edwards. I married him because he was the single-most optimistic person that I have ever known.

He knew there was a brighter day ahead, even as he swept the floors in the cotton mill as a high school student.

He knew if he worked hard enough, he could be the first in his family to go to college.

He knew that he could outwork and out-tough any battalion of lawyers to find justice. And he continued that fight in Washington, courageously, eloquently, with one simple goal: to make the opportunities of America available to all Americans.

We deserve leaders who allow their faith and moral core, our faiths and moral core to draw us closer together, not drive us farther apart. We deserve leaders who believe in each of us and fight for all of us. My rock, my love, and your next vice president, John Edwards.

Full speech at