I’ve noticed the articles appearing on websites discussing the statistics with people who have stage IV breast cancer – which Elizabeth Edwards apparently has. Walking through the airport last night on my way home I glimpsed one of the evening chat programs talking about Elizabeth Edwards as if she were already a past tense – showing photos of her in “better” times, behaving as though today’s news was that she had died. She’s very much alive.
The news today is sad. It is a big setback for the Edwards family. It is not the end. It is the beginning of a fight that may last for a very, very long time. And that isn’t necessarily a horrible thing.
Four years ago I was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Four years later, it is an ailment I still battle. For now the disease is “treatable but not curable.” I take drugs every few weeks. I don’t like them much but they seem to be doing the things they should be doing and I may end up taking them for a very long time. If they don’t work I may get my brain zapped. If that doesn’t work I may go to clinical trials. In the midst of all of it God may heal me miraculously. I have faith that I will live. It is not irrational faith. It is rational faith and many before me have lived for a very, very long time. I am in a long battle – but life is very, very good.
Four years and a day ago I would have read the above paragraph with fear and horror. I would have thought of a brain tumor and thought instant death. What I have learned is that more and more cancer is being treated as a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease – things that aren’t curable but that are treatable… like HIV.
Is this simply the rationalizing of a sick man? No. I’m actually not an optimist by nature – just ask my doctors who have endured four years of me thinking every bit of news means that I need to start sending out “I’m glad to have known you” emails to everyone I know. This is the evolution of treating a horrible disease. Over time the treatments will get better.
So let us settle in for years and years of prayer for the Edwards family and for Elizabeth’s healing. She needs your prayers. (Since I am greedy I will take them too.) And let’s look forward to many more happy photos of their very good life together – a life different than the one they once envisioned, but a life full and rich and beautiful nevertheless.