Any illness that robs us of strength, or life, is tragic but there’s something about the word CANCER that strikes fear in all of us, makes us feel helpless in the wake of the insidious disease that doesn’t play by any rules. While genetics and lifestyle choices do play a part, it can strike at random, out of the blue, and rob us of our best.

The news that Ted Kennedy has a fast-moving brain tumor is sad. It’s true that we all must die of something and he’s been around for a fair amount of years, but this diagnosis is so unkind. Left parietal lobe. The speech center of the brain. Now, to be bed-ridden or otherwise physically hampered is bad enough. Some things you cope with. FDR ran the country from a wheechair but his mind was sharp and attitude sharper. We can transplant body parts, cover up disfiguring scars and loss of hair and even make artificial limbs to patch up our aging and ailing bodies. But what of our minds?

Alzheimer’s disease scares me to death. To slowly fade into a land of oblivion is cruel and sad, but by then, you don’t remember what it is you’ve lost. Left parietal lobe. The speech center. Why not a leg or lung if it has to be? People recover from all kinds of cancers with treatment. How mockingly cruel is a disease that wants to obliterate the one most important area of one’s life?

Senator Edward Kennedy is one of the most eloquent spokesmen and orators of our time. That gravelly voice and Boston accent has been a part of our lives for decades, a voice that commanded respect when fighting on the Senate floor and brought us to tears as he mourned Kennedy family members snatched from life by unspeakable tragedy. His voice is the voice of a generation, my generation.

In my studies of speech pathology and work with patients whose left  lobes have been damaged by stroke or injury, I saw the tragedy of brilliant minds no longer able to communicate thoughts, or jokes, or feelings. After a left hemisphere stroke, my grandmother could formulate only one word for the rest of her life. The same word over and over, to express happiness, frustration or rage. To have the whole side of your body dragging uselessly behind after a stroke is unthinkable, but it pales in comparison to the loss of speech, of articulation. My whole life is so centered on the communication of thoughts that it would be the most devastating thing that could happen. One could argue that even if the speech center is damaged, one could still write, or type, or use communication devices. Ah, but language is the creation of art through words…and intonation…and gestures…and voice. Ted Kennedy can paint a picture of social strife or soaring promise with his gift of language, passionate language.

My heart is rooted in the Kennedy democratic legacy. No words have touched me or shaped me as much as those spoken by JFK, RFK and Ted. They spoke to me. They spoke FOR me. Although you may take exception with Ted’s political views, colorful life as a Kennedy or anything else, you must give the man his due as one of the great communicators of our time. And now we wait and pray for the miracle that will keep him intact, that will spare him the indignity of struggling for words which will not come…

Damn the cancer that is growing, creeping into his brain, so near to destroying that which is the very essence of the man. It angers me beyond words; the whole randomness of cancer and its many disguises frustrates me. It scares me. It humbles me.

 I think that’s why I am so involved in the Relay For Life. I’m angry! I have seen far too many friends and loved ones touched by cancer. Young, old, it doesn’t matter to the cancer monster. I feel helpless as they fight for their lives and there is nothing I can do or say to make it better. I can only fight. Cancer victims fight every day. Ted Kennedy will fight. So must we. We can’t sit quietly while it robs us of our brightest and best. We have to rage against the unfairness of it all; to keep battling lest we become complacent.

I’m praying that Ted will have many more years to shake up the Senate and to inspire people like me who hear in his voice a call to fight for democracy and equality. Yep, he’s going to fight..and so am I. I offer this reminder, words by Thomas Dylan, to all of us.



Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rage at the close of day,

Rage, rage against the dying light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

 ****A note from Julie…………The first comment on this post could have been deleted, because “Sunny Side Up” is meant to share positive news. I am allowed my passionate, personal views and in all fairness I cannot take that same freedom from anyone else, so I allowed the comment.  I’m sure we will ALL face judgement for what we do in this life; it is not for me to say. Like every other human being, I can only hope and pray that any good I do in this world will outweigh my mistakes on the final scales of justice. I continue to pray for Ted’s life as I will one day pray for his soul, and leave the judging to a higher power.



2 Responses to “CANCER MAKES ME ANGRY! Prayers for EFK”

  1. Roy Says:

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Race the cops to the bridge past the light,
    Leave Mary Jo Kopechne in the cold water’s fight,
    For Ted Kennedy left the scene for as claimed his right.

    Sorry, Julie. Ted’s got to answer for Mary Jo Kopechne’s death sooner or later.

  2. wordwizard Says:

    Any one of us, at any time, can become the victim of the cancer beast, regardless of our upbringing, our profession, our religious convictions (or lack thereof), our political leanings, our compassion and empathy for others (or lack thereof), and on and on … In my personal life, I witnessed the malignant consumption of my niece, Tara, who in her 35 years on the planet never did anything wrong to anyone, and who was filled with love for others and the wonder of life. To equate a person’s victimization by one of the most malevolent diseases known to mankind with events in his or her past is a simpleton’s folly. Cancer doesn’t seek out people who have committed sin or been involved in negligible accidents, or those who have murdered and raped or even those who have done nothing but good in the hopes of bettering mankind and helping fellow human beings. Cancer is indiscriminate. As far as the Mary Jo Kopechne incident, Ted Kennedy will answer at Heaven’s gate, just as the rest of us will to our sins – either real or contrived. Cancer is not the judge, jury and executioner in a person’s life; cancer does not discriminate between “good” and “bad,” and cancer does not decide who gets into heaven and who doesn’t. That heavy responsibility is God’s and God’s alone. My prayers go out to Sen. Kennedy and his family.

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