I try to avoid politics in this blog, but Donald Trump’s words at a Nevada rally yesterday make it impossible for me to be quiet. Newsweek magazine reports the following:
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called on the terminally ill Wednesday to “hang out till November” so they can vote for him in the election against his rival Hillary Clinton.
“I don’t care how sick you are,” the Republican nominee said. “I don’t care if you just came back from the doctor and he gave you the worst possible prognosis, meaning it’s over. Doesn’t matter. Hang out till November 8. Get out and vote.”
He continued: “And then, all we’re gonna say is, ‘We love you and we will remember you always.’ Get out and vote.”
He followed that up with, “I say kiddingly, but I mean it.”
His words hit me hard. I have known ten people who have died since 2013. Some of them I knew very well, some were fellow members of my support group, and one was a student.
I receive emails from people who are sick, some dying, all facing hard choices and realities. I have blogger friends who have lost parents and a child. We lost one of our at ChicagoNow last year to melanoma.
We all live in the “Kingdom of the Ill,” as Susan Sontag calls it. I call it Cancerville, and it’s a hard place to live.
I avoid politics because we are a diverse group who need each other in the midst of living with cancer. Though my politics are probably obvious to anyone who reads what I write, my goal in this blog is to focus on our shared experiences.
On October 1st a former student, who became a friend, died of metastatic breast cancer. She was, simply, a lovely person. It was an odd experience for me to see her Facebook posts.
Sondra had a deep and abiding dislike, even hate, for Hillary Clinton. Sometimes the anger of her posts, usually in the form of memes or videos, took my breath away. Maybe she felt the same way about my posts about politics.
I never could reconcile the woman I knew personally with her Facebook posts, but I have to confess that I didn’t try very hard. I just scrolled past. We lived together in Cancerville. Sondra was part of my tribe.
Truthfully, Sondra lived in a part of Cancerville that I’ve only seen through others’ eyes. She was terminal, and she knew she was going to die. She didn’t want to, and she tried every way available to live.
I wish I could take Donald Trump to a quiet room and let him read the words that terminally ill people have written. I wish he could hear the desperation and fear in their voices. I wish he could see the wild look in a woman’s eyes the week after her doctor tells her there aren’t any choices left. I wish he could hear the anguish in the voices of the daughters and sons and mothers and fathers left behind.
This disease—and so many other diseases—rob us of normalcy. Trust me when I tell you that the terminally ill aren’t holding on so that they can’t vote for you, Donald Trump.
They’re holding on so that they can see their children’s faces. They’re holding on, hoping for one more Christmas or birthday. They’re holding on because they want to graduate from college or finish writing a book or hold their first grandchild.
And, you should care how sick they are because being sick is hard. It hurts. Sometimes it hurts so badly that people have to take drugs that essentially knock them out. Sick people suffer.
I guess I’m just out of words for you, Donald Trump. You need to walk in our shoes, live in the midst of our lives, and know how overwhelming cancer and terminal diagnoses are.
I’m not kidding and I really mean it when I say, please stop, please just stop. Your words make me hurt. I feel like throwing myself in front of them to protect the folks in my tribe who are so vulnerable.
Truth is, the terminally ill probably don’t even care about your words. They’re past the political and they’re way past you.
But, I’m definitely going to hang out until November and I’m going to vote and I’m going to hope that a landslide wipes you off the political map so that my land, Cancerville, never has to hear you speak again.
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