I considered writing a comment on Christopher’s entry on John and Elizabeth Edward’s decision to stay in the Presidential race; however, since I have some “expertise” in this arena, I decided to post something from a Survivor’s Point of View.
Those of you who know me may recall my bout with “the Big C” in 2004. You also know that I was still active throughout the 2004 election cycle. Chemo put me out for about 5 days every three weeks, but I kept comin’ back; not because I was crazy (OK I am) but because I wanted to keep up with my routine as much as I possibly could. The last thing you want to do is crawl up into a ball and hide in the corner. There are those who think you should just slink away and hide; I do not see how anyone can live, let alone survive with that attitude.
A good example of this was at my last check-up while the tech stabbed my arm to get some blood, there was a woman in the room with the BEST tee shirt that said it all: FUCK CANCER!!!! In my opinion, anyone who has lived with cancer knows that the best way to survive is to have heaps of attitude. One woman wore lipstick to her masectomy; I opted for crazy hats and stilettos when I went in for my chemo. If Elizabeth wants to campaign for her husband she should go for it, I have no doubt that this was her decision.
When I learned that I had cancer, after the initial freak out, my gallows humor kicked into gear; actually, it is a reality check on life, for example: Average life expectancy is about 76 years now. What that means is when you turn 76 years old, half of the people born in the same year you were born in are dead. That means your chances of making it to age 76 is 50/50. I never found those to be particularly good odds; then again, unless you are an astronaut, you do not leave this planet alive. Once that little thought manifested itself, why not go for what you want in life? My friends know what this attitude has done to my sense of boundries.
The wonderful thing that came out of my adventures with cancer is the level of love and support that came out on my behalf. I was never without friends/family on chemo day; I treated it as a party ala Samantha from Sex and the City (my only disappointment was we never did Mr. Grape). I had a freind join me a day or two following with a little anti nausea medication and the lesbians across the courtyard from me would make baby back ribs and tri tip for me when I needed my protein about 3 days after the infusion. I found a male compadre going through prosatae cancer and our chemo ‘cocktails’ were very similar. We had a great time talking about how dopey Taxotere made you. No matter what you were ‘on’ jokes about the benefits of baldness (hats fit better) or the effects of ‘chemo brain’ were things to laugh about. It sure beat crying.
There are those who said that the DPOC did nothing in 2004 – you can kiss my ass. First and foremost, a number of volunteers came forward in support to keep the ball rolling. I can’t take very much of the credit, people were very motivated to get rid of Bush; but all of us kept our eyes on the prize and I feel very proud of how we advanced in response from 2002. The 2004 election was something that kept me going; through 6 rounds of chemo, bilateral masectomy, 6 more rounds of chemo and about 36 days of radiation.
My remaining goal is to lose the weight I gained during chemo… YES, GAINED – breast cancer survivors and I believe prosatate cancer survivors gain weight; go figure. For both of genders, the whole thing can be hormonal. (Note: I have some other naughty habits to break as well…)
As a survivor, it was quite a blow to learn that Elizabeth’s cancer had returned. I was diagnosed a stage 3B in April of 2004. It is a reminder of the tightrope that I and others walk; life can change on a dime. I can say for myself, right now, so far, so good…
What I have to say to the Limbaughs and other scourges who want to say that the Edwards’ have politicized Elizabeth’s diagnosis is BITE ME! That anyone could say such a thing obviously does not know what it is like to live with cancer. Bear in mind, that the Edwards’ did not announce Elizabeth’s initial diagnosis (a few days before the 2004 election) until after the November 2004 election. Sharing Elizabeth’s condition at this point in the 2008 election cycle makes alot of sense to me. It is about time that everyone learned that cancer is not something to keep hidden away, it is not secret you keep because it is such a bummer for people to hear about. The Edwards’ made their decision to go public with this information and voting for Edwards is not the issue, it is about supporting their decision as a couple and family to move forward and damn the torpedos.
John Edwards said in his 60 minutes interview that he did not anyone’s vote if it was cast because Elizabeth had cancer and I was pretty offended at all of the questions about Elizabeth’s condidtion. My message to Elizabeth is simply: YOU GO GIRL!!!!!!! Her courage is right there with Melissa, Sheryl, Lance and the tens of thousands of people who have been diagnosed, are being treated, or are surviving cancer.