The Grief of Jack Layton's Cancer Announcement

I am not going to speculate on Official Opposition and NDP Leader Jack Layton’s cancer and condition because the timing of his announcement reminds me too much of the timing of my own catastrophe that it overwhelms other thoughts.

It is awful and frightening when you receive a troubling diagnosis; it is shocking enough when you’re trucking along and either a couple of bad drivers hit you or your doctor sits you down to tell you have cancer. But when you are at the point of achieving your greatest goal -- or in Jack’s case having reached it and being placed to reach further -- there is something intensely grieving about receiving that kind of news. One moment, you are happy, laughing, loving each day, anticipating with excitement the fulfillment of all your work; the next, you’re facing the death of your dream, and in Jack’s case, perhaps his very life. It is a devastating fall. And the grief both drives you to get better and infects your every moment. The grief rocks your world and rolls your emotions from anger to bawling. Over the long term, it buries hope.

But Jack is probably going to have a relatively short fight, given the nature of cancer; it’s easier to keep up the spirit over months or a few years of active work-interfering treatment than years and years and years. Being a politician, he also has a well of hope that never runs out. For decades, he has faced constant rejection and ridicule from naysayers and political enemies until after this election victory, yet the well of his hope and optimism only became deeper. He has close support in his family and friends and a net of well wishers from one end of Canada to the other, from the south to the north, lifting and holding him up. He will not lose hope, and he is a determined man. I hope for him, and for us, that his dream, that the pursuit of his ultimate achievement will not be derailed.


Robert C. said…
Thought he was pushing himself REALLY hard during the election. Tough enough dealing with health issues at the best of times.

I recall the first week of the election the NDP didn't want the media showing him with the cane. Which made no sense. He was struggling but still on the campaign trail. Voters would like to see a guy who's trying hard. Of course they figured that out eventually.

Just hope they make sure they let him take a lot of time off. Does seem like a lot of people including him are saying, 'he'll be fine and will be back soon' instead of 'get him healthy first'. Hope they don't try and rush it. Which is a worry.

Especially with NDP making MP's and MPP's cancel interviews in the last day or so just to talk about this. That's weird, and very Harper-esque. [Had to go there] Worry about Jack's health first and then party business later.

No reason for him to rush back this time. Conservatives are in for years and no election to worry about. He's had years of a possible election being around the corner.
Robert: I thought he was pushing himself really hard too. It's a good thing/bad thing when it comes to health. It means you will go further, do more than most folks, but you risk crashing.

His hope of returning soon is a common reaction, I think. I did that too. "I'll be back in 6 weeks," I airily told my rehab team at one point. They were kind enough not to laugh. Like you, I hope he will have the patience to take the time he needs to heal fully and not let his own and others' expectations interfere with good recovery.