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March 22, 2007

On Cancer

I was browsing David Kuo's blog on BeliefNet, reading through some of his remarkable commentary on cancer and cancer patients. Kuo, the former deputy director of the White House's faith-based initiatives project, has brain cancer, and he slowly and calmly explains how different the view is from inside such an experience. Kuo writes:

Four years ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Four years later, it is an ailment I still battle. For now the disease is "treatable but not curable." I take drugs every few weeks. I don't like them much but they seem to be doing the things they should be doing and I may end up taking them for a very long time. If they don't work I may get my brain zapped. If that doesn't work I may go to clinical trials. In the midst of all of it God may heal me miraculously. I have faith that I will live. It is not irrational faith. It is rational faith and many before me have lived for a very, very long time.[...]

Is this simply the rationalizing of a sick man? No. I'm actually not an optimist by nature - just ask my doctors who have endures four years of me thinking every bit of news means that I need to start sending out "I'm glad to have known you" emails to everyone I know. This is the evolution of treating a horrible disease. Over time the treatments will get better.

I was struck, too, by this bit:

I had no doubt about what would happen to the campaign. It would go on. She wouldn't allow anything else. To quit the campaign would be to give in to the disease - it would be the ultimate admission of being the "cancer woman."

I can't imagine the conversations she had with her husband - except that I can. How much will the illness define us? How much will we become steely fighters? How much will we just withdraw from the spotlight and fight this illness alone, with friends? What if... What if these are the last days? What would we regret more...?

Via Alex Whalen.

March 22, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

I had no idea David Kuo was afflicted with brain cancer. But I'm not surprised that he addresses his illness with such eloquence and grace--he has always struck me as a profoundly sensitive and thoughtful soul. Wow.

And he held his own on Real Time with Bill Maher! Opposite Rosanne Barr and Deepak Chopra, no less.

Posted by: litbrit | Mar 23, 2007 1:06:57 AM

I had no doubt about what would happen to the campaign. It would go on. She wouldn't allow anything else. To quit the campaign would be to give in to the disease - it would be the ultimate admission of being the "cancer woman."

Ezra, you might be interested by this piece in the Chronicle (by C. W. Nevius), which quotes a number of cancer survivors all of whom are entirely supportive of the Edwards' decision. Nevius also makes this observation: "When you have cancer, it gives nearly everyone else a license to offer advice."

Posted by: Tom Hilton | Mar 23, 2007 3:48:41 PM

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Posted by: judy | Sep 27, 2007 3:24:26 AM

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