Edwards should run despite wife’s illness

“If you love each other, you…are willing to go through hell and high water together because love means everything,” said Rudy Dezan, a retired high school teacher. She was talking about Democratic presidential nominee John Edwards’ decision to remain in the campaign despite the fact that his wife, Elizabeth, is battling breast cancer.

There has been much talk in political circles over whether Edwards should stop campaigning and tend to his wife or continue with his campaign. There should be no questioning his personal decision. Why deny a candidate with so much potential the chance to be president because of personal circumstances?

Many people support Edwards’ decision to continue his presidential campaign; not surprisingly, some of them are cancer survivors. “Nobody said Lance Armstrong should go home, or they didn’t after a while,” argued Caitlin Curtin, daughter of a breast cancer victim, in a March 24, 2007 New York Times article.

Those who did not support his decision believe that Edwards will be distracted from his duties as president and will not be able to juggle both an entire country’s welfare and his family’s hardships.

A president always has personal issues to deal with, so why would Elizabeth Edwards’ battle with cancer be any different from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s battle with polio? Roosevelt spent his presidential term in a wheelchair because of polio, yet he is arguably one of the greatest presidents ever. Roosevelt was the one who was sick and still he took excellent care of the country during the toughest times U.S. history, the Great Depression and World War II. Edwards deserves a chance at running for president, especially since his wife supports his decision to stay in the race.

Edwards should not be penalized for being a good husband and politician who stays spirited in both his private and public life. Elizabeth is an asset to her husband and the country, as Eleanor Roosevelt was to FDR. The Edwards family should spend time together, but they should also follow their paths in life and not let this disease take over.

This does not make Edwards childish or selfish in his decision as some have contended. Rather, it shows he has endurance and passion for both his family’s and the country’s best interests. If Edwards looses votes because of this, perhaps that says something more about the American public’s prejudice toward those who are coping with illness, than a rejection of this very personal decision.