August 23, 2011

Thanks Jack!

We have lost a great man. Jack Layton, long-time politician, new surprise Leader of the Official Opposition, gentle man and friend to many has died of an unspecified cancer, just after being treated for prostate cancer.

It made me very sad. I never met the man personally but, like many, I felt like I knew him. Wen I first heard that he had prostate cancer, I immediately felt the same bond I feel with everyone who shares this disease. We joke about being welcomed into the club that no one wants to join. He is gone now, but there are lessons in every premature death. What do we thank Jack for, other than his tremendous contribution to Canada?

In his final letter to Canadians which he wrote two days before his death, he addressed part of it to me (and all other cancer patients). After his initial thank you's and admission that he wasn't going to make it, he wrote:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and live your lives, I say this: please don't be discouraged that my own journey hasn't gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

This is a great message of hope and one that all people with cancer or other chronic or terminal disease needs to take to heart. It's so important for us to have hope because the moment you lose hope is the moment you begin to die. As I've commented in other posts, even if you decide to stop treatment (based on educated reasoning) you are not giving up hope. You have just decided to try to enjoy your remaining time. While my disease is incurable today, it may not be in a few years. Even though it might turn out to be too late for me, I will never give up hope. And while my future may be limited, I can look to the future for Dianne and my kids and hope that their lives are as rich as mine has been.

Much has already been written about Jack as befitting a man of his stature and accomplishments and I am pleased that much of it is about Jack the person, rather than just Jack the politician. Interestingly, one article I read talked about the inappropriate use of terms like "losing the battle", "fighting the cancer". I've posted about this too, but it's refreshing to see the debate starting in the press, even in a small way. As my friend and well-known oncologist Robert Buckman said in the article, "The idea that he was waging a battle which he lost demeans him." There is an unintended implication that those who "lose the battle" may not have "fought" hard enough. Similarly, calling someone a "survivor" may suggest that they "fought harder" than someone who dies (if anything, it may be be the reverse). Some may think this is just being overly sensitive, but you need to see it from the perspective of the person with the disease.

One of the comments made in response to this article was from a man who had cancer when he was 17. He said, "I can't say I did much myself to fight it. A couple good oncologists and some pretty harsh chemicals fought the cancer, I just showed up and was along for the ride..." And farther on, "I didn't survive cancer. I survived the treatments, and they made my cancer go away."

I haven't stopped "fighting" and I don't think of myself as a "survivor". That's just me, but perhaps we should be a little more thoughtful with inspirational leaders like Jack.

A final point I want to make concerns the fact that he wouldn't tell us what his second cancer was.... the one that killed him. Perhaps he thought that by announcing what it was, people might become convinced he wasn't going to make it. Because of this, there were many people who wouldn't have had a chance to have "that talk" which I've always said is extremely important. But we must recognize the position Jack was in. As a public figure, the press would have focused on the disease and held an unsolicited, unappreciated and inappropriate "death watch". They would would have had him dead sooner than he was. Unfortunately, this would have overshadowed his accomplishments and the positive coverage he and his political party continued to have throughout.

There is no conflict here. As I have stressed in previous posts, the decision of who to tell and when should always be made by the person and not by someone else. Jack had to think about the impact this would have on his party, to which he had dedicated his life. And I am sure that those he really wanted to know and to talk to were made aware and they and Jack had those precious opportunities that mean so much. And while I'm as curious as the next guy, he made the right decision. We'll likely find out shortly.

Above all, the biggest lesson that Jack gave us with his death is the remembrance of who he was and what he stood for. His love of life, the love he had for his family, the love he had for his country are all things we can all aspire to. So the great lesson of his death is his life. Who knows what his legacy would have been if he lived longer, but the one he has left with us now can change us all. As he said at the end of his letter,

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world.

That's something we should all aspire to.

With thanks to the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail.

18 comments:

Doug said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori Hope said...

What a beautiful, powerful, vitally important post, Doug. Thank you. There is always hope, and it is up to all of us to foster hope in those we love.
Big love,
Lori

Anonymous said...

Wow, this paragraph is fastidious, my younger sister is
analyzing these things, thus I am going to tell her.


Here is my webpage - how to lose weight in your face and
stomach fast, ,

Anonymous said...

Very nice article, totally what I needed.

Here is my site: Los angeles california chat

Lin Shijun said...

shijun 7.6
louis vuitton outlet
white timberland boots
louis vuitton outlet
abercrombie and fitch outlet
kate spade diaper bag
michael kors outlet
ralph lauren uk
michael kors outlet
gucci outlet online
timberland outlet
nike air max
kobe bryant shoes for kids
longchamp outlet
coach outlet online
adidas running shoes
jeremy scott adidas
toms canada
oakley frogskins
coach outlet store online
abercrombie
ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet
oakley sunglasses
coach factory outlet
celine luggage tote
christian louboutin outlet
air max uk
ray ban sunglasses
coach factorty outlet online
michael kors outlet online
jordan 11
true religion outlet
coach factory outlet online
christian louboutin sale
prada bags
insanity workout
louis vuitton handbags uk
louis vuitton
cheap beats by dre
hollister outlet

Lin Shijun said...

shijun 7.6
longchamp handbags
michael kors
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet online
michael kors outlet
coach outlet store online
oakley outlet
jordan retro 5
fitflops
abercrombie
toms shoes outlet
fitflops
fitflops outlet
ralph lauren outlet online
louis vuitton handbags
abercrombie store new york
louis vuitton outlet
ray ban glasses
louis vuitton
ray ban sunglasses
ralph lauren uk
gucci
hollister co
abercrombie outlet
hollister outlet
christian louboutin shoes
burberry sale
dior outlet store
air max 2015
michael kors outlet
longchamp
polo ralph lauren
oakley outlet
coco chanel
kate spade outlet
juicy couture handbags
cheap ray ban sunglasses
michael kors outlet
ray ban wayfarer
replica watches

chenlina said...

chenlina20151128
air max uk
cheap uggs
cheap ray ban sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors outlet online
ugg boots
ugg sale
coach outlet
ugg boots
fake oakley sunglasses
coach outlet store online
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
nike trainers uk
official coach factory outlet
canada goose outlet online
the north face uk
ray ban sunglasses outlet
toms shoes
coach outlet store
abercrombie & fitch
pandora outlet
michael kors outlet clearance
louis vuitton outlet
abercrombie and fitch
instyler max
coach outlet
oakley sunglasses
louis vuitton handbags
louis vuitton handbags
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin outlet
air max 95
cheap nfl jerseys
air max 90
nike huarache
marc jacobs handbags
canada goose outlet
michael kors handbags
coach factory outlet
as

Zhenhong Bao said...

calvin klein outlet
louis vuitton outlet store
michael kors outlet online
oakley sunglasses
cheap jordans
prada outlet
michael kors outlet store
coach outlet canada
lebron james shoes
true religion jeans
michael kors outlet
pandora jewelry
swarovski jewelry
longchamp outlet
mcm backpack
tiffany outlet
air max 90
cheap mlb jerseys
swarovski outlet
michael kors handbags sale
michael kors outlet online
discount michael kors handbags
cheap nfl jersey
nike roshe run
cheap mlb jerseys
cheap football shirts
michael kors online
michael kors outlet sale
beats by dre
nike air max
michael kors outlet
air jordan shoes
ray ban sunglasses
mbt shoes outlet
cheap nba jerseys
20160301baozhenhong

Yuanyuan Lin said...

7.09lllllyuan"cheap nfl jersey"
"chrome hearts outlet"
"true religion outlet"
"true religion jeans"
"tory burch outlet"
"nike air huarache"
"nike huarache"
"cartier sunglasses"
"michael kors outlet"
"ferragamo shoes"
"coach outlet online"
"christian louboutin outlet"
"beats headphones"
"louis vuitton handbags"
"louis vuitton pas cher"
"true religion outlet"
"tiffany outlet"
"ralph lauren pas cher"
"herve leger outlet"
"christian louboutin shoes"
"christian louboutin uk"
"timberland shoes"
"michael kors canada"
"michael kors factory store"
"nba jerseys"
"tiffany outlet"
"basketball shoes"
"toms shoes"
"air jordan shoes for sale"
"adidas wings"
"mulberry handbags"
"ralph lauren outlet"
"ferragamo shoes"
"michael kors handbags"
"ralph lauren polo"
7.09

Zheng junxai5 said...

zhengjx20160817
ugg boots
ugg on sale
kobe 8 shoes
cheap toms
louis vuitton handbags
north face jackets
canada goose
cheap basketball shoes
air jordan femme
uggs outlet
oklahoma city thunder jerseys
abercrombie outlet
coach factory outlet online
michael kors outlet
coach outlet
louis vuitton purses
timberland boots
louis vuitton outlet stores
canada goose uk
new england patriots jerseys
toms wedges
oakley sunglasses
kobe 10
basketball shoes
replica watches
ray ban pas cher
replica rolex watches
michael kors handbags
coach outlet
coach outlet online
nike roshe one
asics shoes for men
cheap rolex watches
christian louboutin outlet
louis vuitton handbags
oakley sunglasses outlet
longchamp outlet
rolex watches outlet
ralph lauren outlet
ralph lauren

Fangyaya said...

timberland boots
michael kors outlet
true religion uk
mbt shoes
adidas yeezy 350
ugg boots
ugg outlet
jordan retro
louis vuitton outlet
coach outlet clearance
louis vuitton outlet
cheap nfl jerseys
michael kors outlet
juicy couture
ray ban sunglasses
adidas shoes
toms shoes
air jordan 8
true religion
ugg uk
nike roshe run
michael kors outlet clearance
toms shoes sale
michael kors canada
cheap jordan shoes
tory burch handbags
michael kors outlet
michael kors outlet
christian louboutin sale
chenyingying2016830

xumeiqing said...

20160926meiqing
ugg outlet
ugg outlet
fitflops
kate spade handbags
coach outlet
michael kors outlet online
ysl outlet online
ferragamo shoes
coach outlet
polo ralph lauren

xumeiqing said...

20170221meiqing
ralph lauren sale clearance
sac longchamp pas cher
yeezy boost 350
canada goose sale
louis vuitton outlet store
ugg boots canada
fit flops
cheap jerseys from china
red bottoms
coach outlet

Zheng junxai5 said...

zhengjx 20170313
Kanye West shoes
michael kors outlet store
adidas stan smith
lacoste outlet
air force 1
timberland outlet
nike huaraches
hermes belt
michael kors outlet
air jordan

alice asd said...

michael kors outlet store
pittsburgh steelers jersey
ray ban sunglasses
fitflops sale clearance
ray ban sunglasses outlet
titans jersey
nike trainers uk
texans jerseys
polo ralph lauren
coach outlet
20170420alice0589

龙大猫 said...

atlanta falcons jersey
nike mercurial
adidas nmd
true religion outlet
adidas stan smith sneakers
michael kors
nike air huarache
cheap jordans
adidas ultra boost
michael kors outlet

dong dong23 said...

oakley sunglasses outlet
michael kors outlet online sale
oakley sunglasses discount
jordan shoes
burberry outlet
true religion jeans
adidas originals shoes
mbt clearance
coach outlet store online clearances
ralph lauren outlet
2017.5.4chenlixiang

John said...

louboutin shoes
michael kors uk
texans jerseys
ralph lauren outlet online
harden shoes
cheap oakley sunglasses
cheap oakley sunglasses
longchamp bags
louis vuitton outlet online
parada bags
20170518yuanyuan