I have been following the story of Elizabeth Edwards' breast cancer battle as if it were my own. An now it saddens me to discover that she is enduring another recurrence, now in her liver (see last nights article: Elizabeth Edwards' cancer has spread to liver), which her doctors say is not worth treating.
In many ways there are parallels: we both had breast cancer, and we both were married to men who put their career and personal desires before the family. Reflecting on this just confirms the studies that show a link between breast cancer and emotional conflict:
Breast (Milk Gland): Involving Care or Disharmony
Breast (Milk Duct): Separation Conflict
Breast (Left): Conflict Concerning Child, Home, or Mother
Breast (Right): Conflict with Partner or Others
hmmm... interesting that my cancer was in the right breast.
I was lucky to have the freedom to leave my unhealthy marriage. It was clear to me, that if my husband was going to put his needs before mine, when I was fighting CANCER, then he clearly was NOT my partner. It was easier for me to battle cancer alone, than to battle cancer and also battle my husband.
Unfortunately, Elixabeth probably didn't feel that she had a choice. She felt obligated to support her husband, in spite of the fact that he did not support her (although he didn't mind using her cancer to promote his campaign). She traveled with him, supporting his dream, when she should have stayed at home and rested.
But I also know that it would have been very hard for her to leave him, even if she wanted to, before the media exposed his true character. Leaving him would have meant negative publicity that would affect his campaign, and the lives of her children. But the emotional toll, and the emotions she had to suppress to get through it only makes it worse. She did the 'right' thing - but her cancer has recurred twice, and now she doesn't have long to live. She is dying now because she tried to be a dutiful wife, to a man who simply didn't care.