Democratic Presidential hopeful John Edwards and his wife Elizabeth held a press conference today, announcing that his campaign will continue, despite a return of her breast cancer.
Watching their announcement (televised live by all the cable news outlets) I kept wondering why the event was necessary. Perhaps I'm a bit old-fashioned and unschooled in the rules of the new media age, but there was something about the announcement that was a bit disconcerting.
First, let me say that I have nothing against the former Senator and his wife. My only disagreement with them is over their stand on the issues. On a personal issue, I have only the deepest sympathy for Mrs. Edwards and what she faces. Breast cancer is a horrible disease; more than 30 years ago, it claimed the life of my mother. She endured a double mastectomy and radiation, but to little avail. She lived barely a year after her initial diagnosis. I grieve for her to this day.
Obviously, Elizabeth Edwards has better treatment options than those available in the 1970s, but she still faces an uphill fight. According to Mr. Edwards, a recent biopsy of his wife's rib showed the cancer had returned. According to this AP story, once breast cancer spreads to the bone it is not considered curable, although women with that diagnosis can survive for years with treatment. Whatever your political position, Mrs. Edwards--and any other woman facing this disease--should be in your prayers.
As for the decision to continue the campaign, that is certainly their perogative, as is their choice to announce such grim news in a media venue. If I were a candidate, I might have reached a different decision, announcing my choice--and the medical diagnosis--in a different manner, say a press release. But then again, my sensibilites are from a different era.
Some of my fellow conservatives are already going rabid over this, claiming that Mr. Edwards is trying to elicit the "sympathy vote" by highlighting his wife's medical condition. I don't think that is the case. Rather, I'd say the former Senator is one of those post-modern politicos (Democrats and Republicans alike) who feel a little too comfortable in front of the cameras, sometimes at the expense of his own privacy--and that of their families.