Elizabeth and John Edwards’ news of her breast cancer recurrence was broken to the public via a press conference last week. Which isn’t surprising; when you live your life in the public, as politicians and their families do, ALL of your life will be revealed in the press, a daily soap opera where the actors aren’t acting: they’re for real. Maybe that’s not right; and it’s certainly not the way it was in the not-so-distant past, when the press allowed even the President, that most scrutinized politician of all, a modicum of privacy. But the reality is, you play in the political sandbox today, you’d better be prepared to be comfortable in a 24/7 spotlight.
And you’d also better be ready for the inevitable sniping that accompanies every decision you make. Anyone who reads a newspaper or watches CNN will have an opinion on what you say, do, and think. From paid political analysts to the guy buying his 6 a.m. cup of coffee and lottery ticket at the quick-mart, they’re all happy to voice their opinion of you and how you live your life. Thus, it’s not surprising that already news stories and blogs have appeared questioning whether Edwards is making the wrong decision by staying in the 2008 Presidential race, now that his wife has been diagnosed with incurable cancer. Shouldn’t he get off the frenzied treadmill of public appearances that take him back and forth across the country, so that he can spend more time with Elizabeth as she undergoes treatment? Isn’t it wrong for him to put his own political ambition ahead of his wife’s wellbeing?
Well, here’s what I say: Run, John, run! And that’s exactly what Elizabeth has said, too, if you read the news stories on their decision to stay in the race. Yes, THEIR decision; the spouse of a political candidate is every bit as involved in the campaign as the candidate him/herself. Why would Elizabeth ever want John to give up his life dream, even under these most dire of circumstances? And what would they do, if he did? Take a Hawaiian vacation? I’m sure that Elizabeth will be energized by helping her husband continue the good fight, and that she’s anxious to remain a part of the Edwards team as long as she possibly can. Any of us with cancer would do the same. Because what’s the alternative? Giving up, that’s what. Giving in. Telling cancer “OK, you win.” The hell with that!
A possible death sentence–-which is what all of us are handed, when we’re told we have cancer-–is no reason to stop living your life. In fact, it’s the best reason in the world to live it even more intensely. You have a choice, with cancer: keep living, or start waiting to die. Thankfully, the Edwardses have chosen option A. More power to both of you, Elizabeth and John. Now, as you face yet another life-defining moment, is not the time to be swayed by negative press. In the end, the only opinion polls that really count are those within your own hearts.
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Published On: March 26, 2007