Cancer and Leadership
A Reflection Of Our Communities

By Bill Couzens

In the United States leadership is a reflection of our communities. One example on a more tragic front was Elizabeth Edwards’s return of cancer with no hope of a cure.

While some have voiced concerns relative to how Mrs. Edwards conducts her life with questions about her choices to be on the campaign trail, the bigger concern should not be her family role, but rather the big headline that mothers just like Elizabeth Edwards all over America in every neighborhood face like battles with cancer.

Elizabeth Edwards role as a wife and a mother, is not unlike what most of our mothers with cancer have done. Plain and simple, they lead their families, first a “mom” second a cancer patient.

While Mrs. Edwards’s cancer is treatable, the unknowns are a daunting burden to face as a wife and the mother of young children.

Undefined by boundaries; cancer seeps in all parts of family life and while seemingly invisible it is the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room.

Young children of cancer patients may not have the details of their own mothers or fathers cancer, but often they sense and are aware of something very wrong.

Those children of mothers who are in the depths of cancer continue to seek reassurance, guidance and direction from the very cancer patients themselves.

Often it may require a warm smile, a kiss or a loving pat on the head; something unspoken that speaks to the sad eyes of a child looking for understanding, comfort and the knowledge that it will all be OK.

Mrs. Edwards’s story touches all of our hearts as it is the story we each know. A story played out in communities across America by our own mothers.

Everyday we have mothers facing the news that they too have breast cancer. The American Cancer Society reports this year in the United States in neighborhoods across the country we will have over 200,000 women that will diagnosed with breast cancer and over 40 thousand women will die of breast cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute there will be over 100,000 cases for colon cancer diagnosed this year. And over 50,000 combined deaths of colon-rectal cancers.

It is evident that the cure for cancer is imperative.

But in the larger picture we must look at the road to less cancer. We must look to our environment where there are common place cancer causing environmental exposures.
The environment of today is the proverbial mirror for human health. Our role is charged with reducing the unnecessary and preventable exposures that have taken on the everyday landscape in our own lives those known to have caused cancer and those we suspect to have caused cancer.

Our world is currently a world of cancer. Our communities like our leadership are entrenched in cancer. We must seek a world of less cancer. END.