Saturday, March 28, 2009

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who should never, ever be confused with this woman)of FL has publicly acknowledged her battle with cancer. Her illness, which included a double mastectomy, left her weakened but determined to keep her condition hidden from her peers. Her health restored, the congresswoman is now a ardent advocate for breast cancer screening for women under 40.

I can't imagine the physical and emotional strength it took to function as a congress person, (actively campaigning for Clinton then Obama) wife and mother of 3 children under 10.

With the help of her staff she was able to attend a fund raiser for Nancy Pelosi, a pain pack hidden under her clothing. She kept her cancer a secret because she didn't want people to feel sorry for her, didn't want that knowledge to hinder her abilities in other peoples estimations.

Would she have had to go to such lengths if she was man? In general I find these "what if" games fruitless, each circumstance so unique. But for whatever reason, it's been nagging at me.

Of course we have FDR's paralytic illness and Kennedy's Addison's disease. But more recent depictions of illness, cancer in particular, usually include an arc of strength and heroism in the narrative. Wasserman Schultz's colleague Arlen Specter comes to mind.

Ultimately, I hope that female public figures don't have to make decisions based on antiquated notions of fragility.

I wish Wasserman Schultz's continued good health. She's proven she's strong enough to take whatever the Republicans could possibly throw her way.


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