I was reading the current issue of People magazine. Yes, I'm a subscriber. One of the articles is about Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. She suffers from MS. I have to admit I don't know a lot about the disease, but I do know that it is painful and debilitating. I wasn't going to read the whole article, I was just sort of scanning the pages as I turned.
And sometimes your eye can catch on something. In describing her MS, Ann Romney said "I thought, 'Couldn't I just have cancer and die?'" Ahhhh. I don't even know where to begin. I could be angry and say that a statement like that is thoughtless. I could try to be sympathetic and say that, just as I don't know a lot about MS, she obviously knows very little about cancer.
I'm leaning towards "angry." Most of you, patients and caregivers, already know everything that I'm about to say. You've learned it through experience. But for Mrs. Romney and others, here goes.
Cancer does not bring a quick death. Cancer is painful and debilitating. Cancer wreaks havoc on the life of anyone who has it, and the lives of the people who care about them. Cancer twists the present and steals the future. Cancer hurts. It hurts so badly that sometimes you can barely stand it. Cancer is not something to be sought after. Cancer is not the lesser of evils. Cancer is the Beast, the Monster, the Murderer. I know there are diseases out there that are crueler than Cancer. I know there are those whose burdens are heavier than ours. But cancer is not an easy way out.
As I calm down, I realize that our knowledge has been bought at a high price. There is only one way to learn about cancer. I wish that our knowledge would ultimately die with us, that no one else would have to know what we know. But for the time being, that's not the way it is. So I guess I should give Mrs. Romney a break. She doesn't know any better, I guess. And I hope that she never has to learn more.