Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Cancer Question

Fred Thompson's revelation that he was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 shines yet another spotlight upon high profile public figures grappling with a disease that lives up to its name. Cancer, from Latin for "the crab," digs deeply into its victims--in every way. Physically, most certainly, but also mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.

As the surviving spouse of a cancer victim, I can speak with a certain degree of confidence on this subject. My husband's initial diagnosis, in the mid-1990s, was grim in the extreme; he was given virtually no chance of survival. Not only did Pete survive, albeit following a one-year period of horrific complications and medical crises, he lived another dozen years. In those "bonus years," as I term them, he achieved some of his life's most worthwhile accomplishments.

Thus, I have little patience with those who would second-guess the motives and wisdom of the brave souls who are battling the cancer dragon with work. Being able to work, to contribute, to put one's talents to good use, is a huge therapeutic blessing to a person with cancer. Cancer survivors understand the value of time, effort, and achievement in a way that healthy people can not truly fathom.

Cancer also teaches both victims and loved ones that we are all vulnerable to death at any given moment. Simply having a clean bill of health today is no guarantee for tomorrow. An outwardly healthy president could drop dead of a stroke or heart attack. So all the "what if it comes back" people can take their seats, please. Any one of us could easily be dead long before Fred Thompson. Not to be morbid, but some of us will be.

Chasing a presidential dream sets the goal bar about as high as it can go. If Fred Thompson decides he feels up to running for president, I say go for it. I've seen the type of focused energy and determination that emerges in the wake of cancer, and this country would benefit from it.

Would I vote for Fred Thompson, if he does end up running? Without a second thought.