I didn’t know Elizabeth Edwards. In fact, I wrote a piece critical of her when she initially stood by John after his affair. I was disappointed when she gave an interview on CNN in May of 2009 and spoke only of John’s “imperfection” rather than calling him the cheater he was and kicking him to the curb. I was angry she hadn’t used her interview time to talk about herself, her cancer, her life: the topics I wanted to hear about. I was angry at her for not claiming her remaining years of life as her own.
So why am I sitting with tears in my eyes because she has died?
I cry because it makes me feel vulnerable and scared of what this disease can do to me: what it did to her.
Yes, I know… there are plenty of men and women who get cancer, have treatment, and stay in remission for the rest of their lives. And, in essence, isn’t that what every cancer patient hopes for, as Betty Rollins wrote, “to die of something else”?
I don’t think it makes me pessimistic, depressing, or negative to think that I am vulnerable.
It’s the truth. It’s my truth.
Anyone who hasn’t been to the oncologist with me to see my risk-of-recurrence charts, my mortality charts, my decision-making discussions along the way can’t say to me “Oh, don’t worry, that won’t be you.” No one, including me, knows how it will go.
People tell me: stay strong, just think positive, you can’t generalize from her situation.
I respond: I am strong, I hope for the best. I don’t think positive thinking is going to save me if there are remaining cancer cells still in me.
I hope that people won’t say to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, “Don’t worry, what happened to Elizabeth Edwards won’t happen to you.” Because while we do everything we can to ensure we die of something else, it just isn’t always the case. In 2006 her oncologist told her that there were many things going on in her life, “but cancer was not one of them.”1 Things change quickly, cancer can recur when you least expect it.
I have sympathy for her family. I cry for her children. I am saddened about the years she spent with a man who didn’t deserve her. I am angry about the time she wasted on him. I hoped she would be an example of someone who would keep cancer at bay.
I grieve for that hope, now gone.
- http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2006/11/20/144410/37/59#c59 [↩]