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March 26, 2007

The Edwards Decision

I was stunned to hear of John Edwards’s decision to continue with his presidential bid after learning about the return of his wife’s breast cancer--a virulent stage-four malignancy with metastasis in her bone and possibly lungs. Yes, I know, this was not John’s decision, it was “their” decision. Yet one wonders whether blind ambition or plain naiveté was at play here.

If that sounds harsh, consider that according to the DNC, John Edwards is in fourth place behind former candidate and current global-warming wonk Al Gore, with a mere 6% party support. And in terms of charisma, vision, innovative ideas, and experience, there are other equally or better qualified Democratic Party hopefuls. But more importantly, there are the condition and prognosis of Mrs. Edwards.

Doctors concede they can only manage her cancer, not cure it. In other words, Elizabeth Edwards is terminal. Yet, although he vows to “be there” when needed, John Edwards insists, “The campaign goes on, the campaign goes on strongly.”

I hope for the sake of his wife and family, Mr. Edwards has a clone somewhere. A presidential campaign is a grueling 24/7/365 commitment; and so is caring for a spouse who is dying, comforting children who are losing their mother, and filling the gap for a weakened partner. How someone could think they could keep all these plates spinning is beyond me.

Six years ago I was diagnosed with a terminal cancer.

That was followed by six months of various chemotherapy treatments and a major surgery that claimed parts of my lung, liver, and most of my diaphragm. To God’s glory I’ve been in remission for five years. I know how vitally important it is to have a loved one who is “there”—I mean really there—with you every step of the way: accompanying you to the doctor and your treatments, encouraging the kids and answering their tough questions, and shielding you from people and situations that would further compromise your condition. I also know that had my wife been a presidential candidate, I would not have been able to endure the physical or emotional demands of a campaign.

Elizabeth Edwards is to be admired for supporting her husband as she undergoes the most challenging experience most people will ever face. It is a testimony to both her courage and her sacrificial love. But there are times when the most courageous and loving thing is for the beloved to refuse such sacrifices. And if John Edwards should change his mind and be so inclined, I am confident that he will never look back on the final days, weeks, and months he spent with Elizabeth and regret that he set aside his political ambitions for a season.

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First, thank you for sharing your testimony. I completely agree with you about this situation. Granted, they are in charge of their own lives, but I agree with you ... I don't know how they can justify going through this terrible struggle and running for President at the same time.


I'm not a Democrat nor do I crave the public eye. But - we still don't know all the reasons. We don't know their hearts either.

It could be that the campaign keeps the family's focus off the terrible illness. It could also be a way of knowing she has left a legacy for her children (should he win.) It could be a ploy for votes.

I do know that high achievers (and they are both high achievers) seem to march to a different drum. I'm happy to work at my job and go home to my husband, my bike and my dog!

I think the only thing I need to judge is who I will vote for based on the criteria I always use (all of which has nothing to do with the health of one's spouse.) I won't vote for Edwards but I wouldn't have voted for him anyway. But I do find myself lifting up his wife in prayer.


Due to the severity of Mrs. Edward's condition, I have to believe they did discussed his continuing campaign bid at some length yet it seems he will lose more than he gains on this one. My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago, and it was the most devastating thing that happened not only to her but to me as well. I could not imagine letting her walk completely alone through it. Yes, with technology the way it is he can “be there” but there’s nothing better than a warm hand in a cold hospital.


I think it is their business, not mine or anyone else's. I cannot judge what they are doing. They may have engaged in a great deal of prayer together and may believe sincerely that this is God's will for their lives. How CAN I judge this decision?


I truly think it is none of my business. I need to pray for them, that God continues to guide them during this difficult part of their lives.


They apparently have made the decision that is right for them - as individuals and as a couple. Since we do not stand in their shoes, we do not have a right to judge as to whether their decision is right or wrong. What matters only is whether the decision is the best decision they could make for themselves.
The best thing we can do for them is to keep them in our prayers.

I do understand that focusing their energies on his campaign - that is - to direct their energy on something other than the cancer itself may be therapeutic in itself. The campaign may give her a desire to fight.


We have to understand there is a difference between judging and having an opinion. Judgement would say Edwards is a condemned man for not standing by his wife. Opinion says if I were in his shoes this is what I might do. I would agree, opinion taken too far can be seen as judgemental but a "none of my business" attitude taken too far is passivity. This blog is about opinion not judgement.


Your words were all true but something very important was missing. The WORD of GOD. When we believe GOD's WORD, we acknowledge that our lives are in HIS hands. Therefore, being in fourth place with GOD is a good place to be. Also, stage four terminal cancer is fact, not truth. Truth is that our GOD is Jehovah Raphekah, the GOD who heals. Finally, Phil 1:21 says
"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." The Edwards family is very possibly doing what we all must do, stand on the WORD of GOD!


When did God make you His voice? Did it ever occur to you that this is none of your business-- what was right for your family doesn't make it right for everyone else... Since when are you the judge and jury?

Regis Nicoll

I’m not sure how you detected a Yahweh-esque quality in my post. If you check closely, I did not question the morality of the Edwards decision, only the wisdom and soundness of it.

You also suggest that this is none of my (our) business. Recall that John Edwards is a public figure who seeks the highest office in the land. As such, his soundness of judgment is very much my, and every voter’s, business.

Admittedly, I don’t know how they reached their decision, and whether or not it’s “right for them.” But given that his wife is terminal and the fact that a presidential campaign is a punishing 18-month full-court press--vowing that you “will be there (for her)” AND that the “campaign goes on strongly,” seems, at best, unrealistic


What is "unrealistic" to you maybe not to the Edwards. How "unrealistic "was it for you and your family to hope that you would still be with them after your terminal diagnosis? I don't see you questioning all the other public figures personal decisions-give it a rest Regis and write about things that matter--you do have a voice-use it wisely

Gina Dalfonzo

Shannon, please read our comment policy (http://www.breakpoint.org/generic.asp?ID=5770) -- particularly the part about bashing -- and make sure you refrain from personal and insulting remarks. Thank you.

Regis Nicoll

Shannon--How unrealistic was the hope that I would survive my illness? Well given that fact that the initial prognosis was “less than one month”; I’d say it was unrealistic to the extreme. It certainly dispelled any illusion I might have had that spending precious time left with loved ones could be done without throttling back on work commitments.
As to questioning other public figures; had a RNP candidate, or any other for that matter, made similar statements under similar conditions, you can be assured, I would have questioned their judgment with equal vigor.


I would not support any candidate whose priority is his campain over family (especially the children who will lose their Mom. Because remember folks, it's about the power and position. Legacy to their children, nothing replaces the memory of a time as a youth that you spent (good)time with a parent


As a terminal breast cancer patient, I applaud Mrs.Edwards...

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