Thursday, June 07, 2007


I have some unsolicited advice for John Edwards. Go home, John. Spend some quality time with your wife and kids.

John Edwards, as most of us are aware, is a presidential candidate whose wife has breast cancer that has metastasized to the bone. The condition, as one news source said, is treatable but not curable. I'm not an oncologist but a physician friend tells me that her life span is measured in years, not decades, and probably just a few years.

It just seems to me that if your wife is slowly dying of cancer that you would want to spend those last few years spending time together doing relatively enjoyable things. Campaigning for president does not seem like a great way to spend that time. I don't say this because of any political reasons. I have no strong feelings one way or another about John Edwards as a presidential candidate, but as a human I think he'd be better off doing something else.

It seems that John Edwards especially would get this. They lost a teenage son in an automobile accident several years ago, so you would think that he more than others would realize how precious life and time can be. They also have two young children. Now is the time to spend time with them, not when they are adults and your wife is no longer around.

I realize that this is none of my business, that it is between Edwards and his wife. I have read that she insisted he continue. Maybe campaigning is what they enjoy doing together. Some would say that seeking the presidency is more important than spending time with your dying spouse. I don't think so, though. There are lots of people who could be president of the United States, but there's only one guy who is Elisabeth Edward's husband.


Blogger JuliAnn said...

I stumbled across your blog today, posted as a favorite on another blog I read, both as a healthcare provider and the mother of 26 week twins, I am fascinated.

On your comments today, I don't disagree, but I thought I would offer another perspective. My father passed away in late April. His death was not unexpected, he had CHF for over 20 years and finally sucum to medicines inability to cure... just treat. Anyway, as his disease progressed to the level of "beyond anything medicine can do about it", we had him put on hospice care. Unfortunately, my mother's strength and confidence to over see his care failed almost immediately. As I took over his care, I was first very angry at her. I couldn't understand why she could not commit to him during his last few weeks, as she had the last 27 years. Wasn't his devotion worth at least that much?

I struggled with these questions until just recently. I realized that my mother's behavior had more to do with her own inablity to face his dying than with her understanding that he was is need of her support. What I saw as ignorance and calice disrespect, was really her beginning the grieving process. I wish she could have been there for dad in a more meaningful way for him, but I understand now that the distance she put between them, softened the blow.

11:32 PM  
Anonymous Poly Sci said...

I just think he is selfish and wants to be president no matter what the cost. Just my 2 cents....

11:32 PM  
Blogger Jilly Bean said...

I completely agree with you and was stunned when I read that he planned to continue to campaign. I know several people who also lost a little respect for him because of his decision. I lost three family members in two years. I wish that I had stopped working and had spent more time with them.

12:29 AM  
Blogger littlema said...

The thing is when you are facing something like terminal cancer you don't always "get" what you should and your actions don't always convey the depth of your feeling for that person. Maybe he isn't able to face the full implications and throwing himself into work is a coping mechanism.

How many parents of premature infants in the NICU have you seen that don't "get" the gravity of their situation until in their own time the "get" it.

I am sure John Edwards will get it when he gets it. I hope for the family that it is in time to limit any regrets.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Christina said...

I totally agree with you on this post. I feel so sad for their little twins too- the ones that they had (via IVF I assume) after their other child died. I am not saying that this was wrong for them to do- but having children at an older age obviously increases the chance that you wont be around to see them into adulthood. Since this is now the case, I think at this point the least they could do is spend the last few years of her life giving the twins their full attention and just having fun as a family. Maybe the Edwards themselves enjoy campaiging- but I can't imagine the little kids do.

I guess my husband and I dont have an ounce of the drive/ambition/insanity that one finds in politicians and their families! If we were in their situation we'd just take our family to some lovely tropical paradise and relax on the beach all together.

And let's face it, does anyone think he really has a chance at getting the nomination?

So glad you're back NND!

2:34 AM  
Blogger Leila said...

I disagree.

What is she supposed to do? Go home and wait to die?

She's doing what she wants to do, and will be having her young children (who aren't twins, actually) with them next year, and she is continuing to live.

Plus... it's not really John Edwards' decision. It's hers. It's the rest of her life and she should be the one to make that choice. She believes that her husband running for president (and perhaps winning, who knows?) is critical to the world she hopes her children will grow up in.

3:59 AM  
Blogger Julia said...

Great to see you back ND!!

If my husband were dying of cancer I would want to spend every moment possible with him. I would quit my job and stay with him every moment. After loved ones die there is no way to get that time back. I would forever regret not being with him every second that I could.

9:55 AM  
Blogger 20somethingmommy said...

Wow. I just don't know. I think the saddest thing about all of this is the simple fact that whether or not he continues his campaign, there will always be a part of him that says, "What if?" What if he had stayed home with his wife? What if he had continued and actually won? What if?

On the other hand (not to be completely cynical), if he ditches this campaign and waits until the next joyous go-round, he could easily gain some sympathy votes.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting post, although i can appreciate your point of view, I can see the flip side.

My mother died suddenly when i was 1 from a cerebal haemorage, a death with no warning, and as a consequence i have often pondered what i would do if i knew i was going to die. I would do the same thing I do every day, the same way my mother did.

Life is for the living, and if this gentelman and his family want to get on with the business of living it then that is there perogative. I doubt his wife would be thankful that the love of her life missed his chance because of her, I wouldn't in her shoes.

What if Mr Edwards had been running for president when his wife died unexpectedly?, would we say that he should have been home spending time with her just in case?

10:17 AM  
Anonymous Poptart said...

Hooray! I haven't checked in a while. So glad to hear from you again!

11:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mother has metastatic breast cancer to the bone. She will have this diagnosis for 7 years in June. I have no idea the acuity of Elizabeth Edward's illness, but it is certainly possible that her life could be measured in decades...

and imagine the sympathy from voters if she passes during the campaign.

11:30 AM  
Blogger kate said...

I just realized you are back...welcome back!

Re John Edwards -- i don't know, if i were her & my hubby was running, i don't think i would want him to withdraw on my account. It's their decision, and you gotta respect that.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Ex Utero said...

I'm not with you on this one. I respect Edwards for not shutting down their dreams in the face of this illness (and I do believe that it is THEIR dream for him to at least make a serious run for president).

I haven't decided if he's the candidate I'm pulling for or not, but one thing I sense is that he's laying it all out there. He's going for it.

Perhaps her cancer is adding to his sense of urgency.

We need a president who lives beyond his own ego. Having a spouse who deals with cancer. Having lost a child. Having young children in the White house. I can see those things bring much need perspective to a White House that is has become little more that a whore house to special interests and neocon ideologies.

As for when he'll find time to greave. We all do that, when it is the right time for each of us.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Debby said...

Glad you're back...

but not sure that I agree with you! My dad died in February 2007 from lung cancer, nearly two years after his initial diagnosis. He took the, "I'll wait 'till I'm better" approach and didn't do half of the things he said he wanted to do.

If Elizabeth Edwards *really* wants to continue the campaign, that's what they should do. Keep pushing and contributing until they don't want to anymore.

11:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I were in that position I would want to spend every moment as a family. I don't mean this as in the "go home and wait to die" aspect but instead spending precious family time together....making sure their children have fond memories. I agree with you that there are plenty of candidates but only one husband for Elisabeth. and the only mother for those little ones.

When I think about this from the childrens' point of view, I can only imagine they would choose more quality time as a family while they still have their mother. Campaigning probably doesn't allow much time for them anyway.
One can't help but think they are probably being placed on the back burner because their parents' have other priorities.

Politically, I don't think it will be an issue, as I don't see him making it past the primaries.


12:39 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Some agree with me and some don't, and that's okay. We all seem to agree that it's the Edwards' choice.

6:48 PM  
Blogger fancypantsnancy said...

They might be a little in denial over this. I know when my mother was first diagnosed with colon cancer I was in denial big time. I wish now I'd spent more time with her but at the time I had 4 young children and a part time job. Never the less, I wish I'd spend more time woth her somehow. I hope John Edwards doesn't end up with the same regrets I did.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not that I troll old postings to comment, but in case someone comes across this after learning her bc has returned, with mets to bone:

Depending on the tumor markers, the time to recurrence, the prior treatment plan and the lack or presence of visceral mets, this is not a death sentence. You will die with breast cancer, but you may not necessarily die from it.

My mom is a vibrant, active woman with a late recurrence of BC, mets limited to bones. Her liver is fine, her CNS is fine, her bone scan is alarming. She works, she travels and she lives her life, treated for cancer, not dying from it. Not everyone gets to enjoy a slowly progressive course and a chance to feel "better" than she did at the point her recurrence was diagnosed.

Find an oncologist who isn't a nihilist, recognize that a certain percentage of women *do* live decades (mom is 25 years from her initial diagnosis, 5 from her recurrence) and live your life the way that makes you feel fulfilled. If that means helping your husband get elected POTUS, do so. Unless your name is Columba.


6:54 PM  
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1:40 AM  

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