Regis Nicoll Christian Blog and Commentary

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.

(What do you think of the Edwards decision? Post your thoughts here.)