Thursday, March 22, 2007

Blond Ambition

I am dismayed that John Edwards intends to continue his run for the presidency despite the fact that his wife Elizabeth's cancer has returned.

It was disturbing that in a news clip of the couple talking to reporters, he began to walk away briskly while she was still engaged in conversation. She had to sprint to catch up with him.

After all, he has a campaign to run. He is clearly not going to let himself be held back by his wife's illness. How inconsiderate of her to place him in this position.

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer when he was running for Vice President on John Kerry's ticket in 2004.

She underwent treatment, but now it's back.

I don't care if he's a Democrat or a Republican. I find it appalling that he would choose his political ambitions over taking care of his sick wife.

She said that she intends to campaign with him. I guess she's a stand-by-your-man type.

If I were ill with a serious disease and had young children at home, I would not choose to spend my last year (or months) on the campaign trail, traveling all over the country, shaking hands with strangers, talking up my husband, staying in hotels, far from the doctors who knew me and my condition best.

But then, I'm not a die-by-your-man type of woman.


When Stephen asked me if I would feel the same if Elizabeth Edwards had diabetes, I rejected the concept that they were in any way similar. With apologies to Stephen, I now know that her doctor made the same comparison. The good news is that with new treatments and better drugs, it is now possible in some cases to preserve both a cancer patient's life and quality of life.

Her doctor says that "cancer has been converted from a short battle that you either win or lose, to a chronic siege." A chronic siege, he adds, that you can fight while still enjoying life and pursuing your goals.

"Elizabeth Edwards will have a very important impact for many individuals. She can offer hope and courage to others facing more advanced disease."

I hate the taste of crow. But in this instance, I'm glad I was wrong. While it still would not be my personal choice to campaign, it wouldn't have been my choice in the first place. I am not a political person.

The good news is that for some patients who continue to take care of themselves, cancer need not be the end of the line.

There is life after diagnosis.


hel said...

Someone that I worked with received an increase and special mention at the end-of-year company function because he left his wife during the delivery of their first child to sort out a crisis at work.

I left the company shortly thereafter

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Well, Flip, do not run for President.

Seriously, I agree with you hearts. Someone who doesn't have the right priorities in his own life shouldn't be placed in charge of the nation. Family should come first.

Ryane said...

Firstly, Hearts--I agree w/you completely. Where is his integrity? It makes me wonder what else Edwards would be willing to just walk away from should he be President? If his wife doesn't factor into his life, why would the country? Just sick.

And secondly: hel: OMG!! That is a crazy story about your former co-worker. I would kill my husband if he left during the delivery of our child to sort out a work crisis. Gah!

Pickled Olives said...

Wow. I wonder if she has good insurance. It might help his campaign financing. Disgustedly - P.O.

Bob said...

John Edwards is taking on the mantle of being a man of the people, mostly due to his parents being mill workers. But what he is, is a lawyer who made millions on lawsuits.

I can only hope that he is campaigning only because she urged him to, that she so believes in him and his potential to be president. but I kinda doubt it. It takes a lot of ego to think you can be president and that kind of ego doesn't forgo a shot at being the leader of the free world.

He could run in 2012, he's a young man. I don't understand him either. How much does she really mean to him?

furiousBall said...

I concur. If my wife were stricken with cancer, I'd be home as much as possible to help.

monicker said...

That just makes me sick. What a self-centered creep. I was quite disappointed to learn that he was running. Is this seriously the best we can do?

Anonymous said...

I don't mean to be the devil's advocate here, but we don't know the discussion that occured in the Edwards household and maybe she really pushed to keep all things in their life "as they are."

Now, having said that, continuing my campaign would definitely not be my choice either -- but then I wouldn't be running for President to begin with.

Do you hate me now?

Thailand Gal said...

The really amazing thing is how much praise he and she are both getting on the various news stations.

After all, the stiff upper lip stuff and all that.




heartinsanfrancisco said...


It makes me sick that such behavior is encouraged and rewarded.

I may be extra-sensitive to this issue because my first husband stick-figure dropped me at the hospital to have my first child. I thought he was parking the car, but he never returned. The second time, I couldn't find him at all. I drove my daughter to my mother's, and then drove myself, in labor, to the hospital to give birth to my son.

I left the company later, too.


I think it should. I have always believed, however, that the most dangerous people seek power.


Maybe he's hoping for the sympathy vote. And maybe his wife wants him to run to preserve the illusion that she'll recover. Business as usual.

But it's hard to understand how running for president represents normalcy in anyone's life.


If you mean life insurance, the thought of running a campaign on his dead wife's back is grotesque.

As for medical insurance, I doubt they have to worry about that. But putting a woman through the rigors of campaigning while she undergoes chemo can only hasten the end.

Realistically, he probably won't get the nomination anyway.


I agree with everything you said. He may have been a Boy of the people once, but he is far too rich to qualify now.

As for how much does she mean to him, she has probably swallowed that claptrap about their being a team, and she is willing to give her last breath to getting him elected.

So one has to wonder, how much do their children mean to either of them? The have 6 and 8 year old kids who still need a mother, and a daughter in college.


Of course you would. It's one of the reasons we love you.


Good question. I'm leaning toward Obama, but don't know that much about his stance on various issues yet. I like him, though, which is unusual for me regarding political candidates.


We don't know what was said in the privacy of their marriage. I think there's a very good chance that she urged him on for various reasons, not the least of which is her own desire to deny how grave her condition is.

But I believe the stresses of campaigning will deplete her energies and leave her helpless in the face of cancer. It doesn't take a medical psychic to realize that, so I think it's unconscionable of him to persist, even if it's at her urging.

I'm glad you're not throwing your hat into the ring, too. Hate you? Don't be shtoooopid.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Yeah, well maybe they're all drooling at the prospect of actually seeing her keel over dead right on camera.

We already know that we are a nation of terribly skewed values.

They are probably counting on all that praise to cinch the nomination, which seems just a tad cynical to this voter.

meno said...

I had a bad feeling about this when i heard it too. I thought i was the only one. Where are their priorities?
I don't know, since i am not them, but it seems creepy.

Stephen said...

I think you may have mis-read this. Chances are it was Elizabeth who insisted on continuing the campaign. Also, according to everything I have read, the treatment for the cancer she now has is much easier on the rest of the body and she will be able to travel and in most ways participate in the campaign herself.

I don't the Edwards personally, but everything I have heard and read about John suggests he would drop absolutely everything if it in any way adversely affected Elizabeth or the rest of his family.

I would be slower to judge his/her/their motivations here. Elizabeth wrote a book called Saving Graces and it is worth a read to learn more about who she is and why she and her husband made the choices they did yesterday.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


It's true that we are not the Edwards, and I, for one, find it difficult to empathize with anyone who would run for president in the first place.


You raise some interesting points. I haven't read Elizabeth's book, and as I stated in earlier comments, I also think that there is a good chance she is the one pushing for things to go on as if she were not sick.

That alone worries me for her as cancer needs to be prioritized over everything if one is to have a chance at beating it.

As always, it is good to be reminded that we cannot know another's heart until we have walked that mile in his mocassins. So thank you for reminding me not to judge him. (But I still don't have to vote for him.)

stephen said...

I would humbly suggest that Elizabeth's life needs to be prioritized, so she has a chance at living it. I am certain she will heed the advise of her physicians and that John's campaign will come to a screeching halt if her condition or the treatment become debilitating. However, I applaud her for continuing on with work that she feels is important to her and living her life uninterrupted until her last day on the playground.

As for not voting for Edwards, that is your perogative, although I am leaning towards voting for him. This is not the place to discuss political candidates, but I would be happy to have that discussion with you privately.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I"m confused. To humbly suggest that her life should be prioritized if she is to have a chance at living it was exactly my point in the first place. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough, or perhaps you misread what I was trying to say.

I think they are heading onto very thin ice concerning her health. But then, I do not take kindly to the idea of human sacrifice. I'm funny that way.

stephen said...

From what I have read, the cancer that Elizabeth now has is uncurable, but treatable. She will need to take medication for this the rest of her days on the playground. She will have to treat it like any other serious, chronic condition.

What I (somewhat clumsily) tried to express is that it appears that she wants to continue living her life and doing the work that is important to her, while at the same time treating this condition and following the advise of her physicians. That's what I meant about making her life a priority. Not just the quantity she may get in years, but the quality of those years. If it were me, I would want to continue with my life and do the things I felt important and only give my chronic condition the attention it needs.

If she had diabetes (another serious, chronic condition) would you feel the same?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I would not feel the same if she had diabetes, the treatment for which is not chemotherapy. Chemo is completely debilitating. Insulin injections are not.

I would also want to live my life as fully as possible if I had an incurable disease. I do not fault her for that in the least. Of course, where we part company is that I, personally, would not choose under ANY circumstances to be a candidate for political office or the spouse of one.

Further, I am not sure that I would even opt for chemo if I had cancer because I agree with you that quality trumps quantity, although both would be very nice to attain.

I think we can agree that the "playground" is a lot more user-friendly in the absence of a serious illness.

Elizabeth Edwards seems like a fine lady. I feel bad for her, and I'm sure that she is doing the best she can with a difficult situation.

stephen said...

My last post, as I do not want to monopolize the conversation here.

According to what I have read in the last couple of days (I can send you links, if you'd like), the chemo for this condition is far less traumatic on the rest of the body than what she experienced the first time around. The drugs target the cancer without doing much harm to surrounding tissue. She will not lose her hair, spend hours vomiting, or most of the rest of the nasties other chemo delivers to the human body.

While the treatment is not as benign as a shot or two of insulin, it is not nearly as debilitating as you might think.

I agree with you that quality trumps quantity every time.

And thank you for a delightful and enlightening conversation.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


You're welcome. I'm always up for a good argument with you.

Kate S said...

I felt the same way when I saw that.

Susan, were we married to the same guy? Geez. My first ex did essentially the same thing. For better or worse, our babies didn't make it. I tend to believe it was for the best, considering.

Anonymous said...

Have a good weekend, HinSF.

Be well, enjoy the sun, smile many times, please.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Oh, Kate, I'm so sorry about your babies. That's an unimaginably terrible thing to go through. Maybe they realized that they couldn't hack being his kids, and decided to catch up with you in another lifetime.

Old Crazy-But-Charmless has never been any kind of father to our kids.


Your comment makes me smile now. Have a fine weekend, too.

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urban-urchin said...

i can't help but think about those close to me whom i've lost recently. in the end no one mentioned what they did for a living, no one cared where they lived or what they drove. the only thing mentioned during memorials was the impact having a relationship with this person meant to those left behind.

i also can't help but wonder if edwards will regret his decision down the line, if his wife doesn't recover (God willing she does of course).

Peoples priorities are interesting and telling aren't they?

Lee said...

I think I heard that Edwards ran for Senate right after the loss of his son as well. I have to agree with you. I thought for sure when I heard that they were holding a press conference, that he would be withdrawing, but I guess not.

First, I gotta wonder what kinda person wants to be president of this mess; can you imagine? And second, how the hell could he be fully concentrated on either his wife's recovery or this disastrous war that we find ourselves in. Won't give him my vote.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I may be a winner? Joke, right? I'll check it out as soon as I read my comments here.


As always, you've nailed it perfectly. What we leave behind is our impact on others. The rest is not that relevant to anything.

I have never heard anyone mourn, "I have lost a great lawyer today. Or a great dentist, or fork-lift operator." What we lose is the essence of a person, and their special relationship to us.

But I suppose somebody must prioritize politics, or we wouldn't have any politicians, would we?

"Today I lost a great politician." I don't think so.


You raise some excellent points. I agree with all of them.

Maybe Edwards copes with personal tragedy by burying himself in government, but that would never be my priority.

Of course, I would never make it in politics becasue I can't keep my mouth shut.

Jay said...

I judge a person by his or her priorities. Loved ones should be first, always.

Sienna said...

I sincerely sympathise with the family's plight and Elizabeth Edwards ongoing battle....

I already live as if today is my last day on earth, I find it almost incomprehensible intelligent people choose their vocation over children, spouse, family, quality time, life?....if I was the greatest, just the most wonderful President or Prime Minister this earth had ever seen it would mean absolutely nothing to me if I had failed as a mother or father, partner or human being...that is just my thoughts, my priority...those children are so young, their Mum is facing an ongoing fight (whether it be big chemo or small) for her life, you would not be able to pry me from my duty, support and show of love with a crowbar. Running for politics? where is that in the measure of the scheme of life?

Only my thoughts, and I can be a little passionate and pigheaded. :)


katrice said...

As a mother, wife, and daughter who lost her own mom to cancer, I would have to simplify my life by dropping all the unimportant activities and devoting my time to my family, whether I was the cancer patient or the loved one of one.

Running for office sounds like complicating one's life to me.

Maybe she is afraid to stand up for herself. If so, this is sadder than I thought.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Amen. You ain't lyin'.


If you're passionate and pig-headed, sit down right here, next to me.

I would hate to think that running for office was the grand achievement of anyone's life. At least, that is not what it's about for me.


It seems as if simplification is in order in the face of serious illness, not complication.

I doubt that she's afraid to stand up for herself... that implies an adversary situation. I think that they both believe in his campaign. And that would be wonderful if not for her being sick. Which would be a deal breaker for most people, wouldn't it?

JR's Thumbprints said...

Perhaps it's their way of coping with her illness.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I think you're right. After reading a lot more about this, I just added an update to this post. I have reconsidered, and think that I was taking too hard a line on this issue.

I am nothing if not opinionated, but I do know that no one can see the world through another's eyes. I should not have condemned Edwards for his choice, even if it wasn't what I would do in his situation.

All we can really say with certainty is "I wouldn't have done that."

stephen said...

Heart, thank you for your kind words.

Campaigning for any political office is not something I would want to do in the best of health. On that we agree completely. That said, there appear to be some honorable people who want that life. Not all who seek political office are power hungry whores in it for their own self agrandizement (although there are far too many of them). Some, like the Edwards', appear to believe in service and giving back to the society that has treated them quite well.

This is not an endorsement of Edwards for pres. I'm not certain of him myself. I am impressed by them, and I do feel we could do much worse (I think we may have already).

If anyone is interested, there's some interesting background at this link.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Gee, you think we may have done worse already? Well, knock me over with a feather.

It's hard (for me) not to take a jaundiced view of politicians, but the law of averages is on your side. There must be a few people out there who genuinely believe in service, in giving back, through elected office.

I hope we get such a person next time.

To be impeccably fair, I suspect that Bush sincerely believes he is doing the right thing for America. The fact that I, and millions of others, disagree does not change that.

CSL said...

I'm glad you posted that follow-up, because it did sound pretty heartless. But I alwsy try ot emember that you NEVER know what goes on in any one else's marriage, and she may find this to be a distraction or rewarding or whatever. But, in general, we do seem to be far too focused on achievement in this country.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I didn't mean to sound heartless. I have a great deal of sympathy for Elizabeth Edwards and her entire family.

If I expressed myself clumsily, I meant to say that I would have preferred that all their energy be devoted to making her well.

We have no way to know the extent to which she shares her husband's ambition, but from all evidence, she does completely.

If memory serves me, Jackie Kennedy did not campaign for Jack. She was pregnant with their third child, who died, and stayed home. Since he got elected anyway, this should give Mrs. Edwards some wiggle room if she needs it.

velvet girl said...

It seems disgustingly selfish of him. He seems to be missing the point about what's important in life... the people we love.