I'm fired up. I've been meaning to write about the Edward's announcement but I kept putting it off because the media reaction to it has been particularly annoying. Then today I saw this little post on a supposedly "progressive politics" blog and I got downright aggravated. I fired off a response but I'm not sure they'll even post it and I don't think I have the patience to write a separate one for my blog after creating that one. So, here it is.
December 11, 2006 I marked the fourth anniversary of my diagnosis with incurable bone cancer but my doctors agree that it had been in my chest for several years before it was diagnosed. My tumor was found to be attached to one of my ribs, pushing into my spinal column, and wrapped around the aorta going to my heart. Since that diagnosis I've had radiation and three surgeries. It was hard to get through but I did it.
I have all of my body parts except for pieces of a couple of my ribs which they took out when they de-bulked my tumor. I can eat whatever the hell I want. I can ride rollercoasters and get more than a little tipsy on St. Patrick's Day and this summer I'm going to take my first cross-country road trip with my friends and my spouse. I'm not paralyzed. I have a full head of hair, all of my teeth, both breasts, two working eyes and ears and I'm even slightly overweight. Yeah, that's right. Since I got diagnosed and went through all of those treatments, I haven't lost a single pound. I'm not all shriveled up with chapped lips and a death-rattle for a voice despite how television and movies love to depict folks with cancer. I've been yelled at lots of times in parking lots because people look at me and think that I have no business being in the spots reserved for "the handicapped". In fact, unless I were to take of my shirt and show you my two surgical scars, you wouldn't know that I'd ever had anything done to me at all.
And you know what? I'm not an anomaly. There are millions of folks like me walking around in this country. I think a lot of people who haven't had cancer don't really understand how many advancements have been made in cancer care over the past few years. Soon after my grandfather got diagnosed with lung and throat cancer twenty years ago, he began to look like the picture that most Americans have in their head when they think of the word "incurable cancer". Today it's a hell of a lot different. I have accomplished more in the years since my diagnosis than I had in all the years before it.
You are doing your readers a HUGE disservice by advancing the erroneous notion that "incurable cancer" is synonymous with "terminal cancer". There is an enormous difference between the two! You can be incurable for many, many years without ever becoming terminal. You can become terminally ill even though your cancer is, at least in theory, curable. In my own case, lupus (my other health condition) has threatened my life many more times than my cancer has.
Speculating about someone's condition without even seeing the details of their medical records can have very hurtful consequences. For many people, the internet is one of the first sources they use to find information when they or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer and I can personally attest to how distressing it can be to try and un-do the damage caused by misinformation about cancer.
Honestly, there is no reason why Mrs. Edward's cancer should be considered a reason for her husband to stop campaigning. She's healthier than Richard Cheney was when he became Vice President--a position that I think is much more taxing to one's health than simply being a potential first lady. She's young enough to be considered a good candidate for many, if not all, of the treatments that would be recommended in order to keep her fairly healthy. She's much richer than the average cancer patient so she can afford to get the very best care in whatever country it may be found instead of being limited to just one group of doctors may be able to do for her. Besides, I think what we should really consider is the fact that continuing this campaign is what she says she WANTS her husband to do and that, above all else, is more than enough reason for them to go on.
People can wind up wasting years of their life just sitting around waiting because they think that being incurable means they about to turn up their toes and die. And what if Mrs. Edwards does die of cancer eventually? Well, sitting around at home wouldn't have prevented it from happening.