Look, we know there is a lot of stupid in the world. And, over the past few weeks, the stupid has really been coming out to play. I was all set to do a post today about two such idiotic comments, but I’m not. I’m not going to spend much time on Tom Smith or Rush Limbaugh. Instead I want to tell you about Alice, a 16 year old girl who has been living with cancer for the past 4 years.
But before we get to Alice, let’s touch on two people who could learn a thing or two from her.
Tom Smith – Mr. Smith is a Republican running for the United States Senate in Pennsylvania. In an interview with a local reporter he compared the difficulty a woman faces when she is raped to when she has a pregnancy out of wedlock. He now claims he never intended to make that comparison, but it is clear to me from the transcript that it was a deliberate comparison. The fact that Smith has now joined the rowing chorus of men (mostly) on the right trying to minimize rape and take decisions out of the hands of the victims is horrifying to me.
Rush Limbaugh – We’ve talked about Rush once or twice on here before. In the category of “you can’t possibly believe what you are saying, Rush” comes this latest gem. Essentially he believes (or claims to believe) that, somehow, President Obama manipulated the weather forecast to make it look like Hurricane Isaac was going to hit Tampa. Then, once the Republicans canceled the first day of their convention, he redirected the forecast to what was actually going on. It would be hilarious, if there aren’t so many people who are ready to believe anything this man says. It’s dishonest and it’s shameful.
Now, on the flip side, let’s meet Alice Pyne. Alice is 16 and has terminal cancer. Last year, when faced with her prognosis, she made a “bucket list” of things she wanted to do and experience. A couple of weeks ago, thanks to the generosity of total strangers and those in her community, she completed the last item on her list. I hope you’ll all take the time to read through her blog. As someone who lives with a chronic medical condition – Marfan Syndrome – I have so much appreciation for how she has chosen to live her life and approached her medical challenges. I could write volumes on Alice an others like her – people who have taken a diagnosis as an opportunity to make a difference through their deeds. Alice has gotten thousands of people to give blood, join bone marrow registries and, I’ll bet, re-evaluate how they look at life. I’ll admit to having tears in my eyes reading about Alice and I think we call learn something from this remarkable young woman.
So why did I include her in this post? Alice didn’t start this blog for fame or to bring attention to herself. She and her family weren’t thinking about personal gain or their own ambitions. She started her blog as a way to chronicle her progress towards her bucket list. Once it went viral, however, they could have used it to promote themselves the way Rush Limbaugh loves to do. Instead, they used it to raise awareness about bone marrow registries and have, no doubt, saved many lives through their efforts. Reading through it, it is refreshingly honest and genuine. Alice demonstrates a remarkable ability to care for other people, even she battles her own cancer. An ability to care that so many, like Tom Smith, don’t seem to have.
Finally, I read about Alice’s experiences, her doctor appointments and her health struggles and I can’t help but wonder. What if Alice lived in America and was born to a poor family who didn’t have health insurance? What if she lived in America and her family had similar policies to what many middle-class families have today? What then? Alice’s parents never had to worry about choosing between medical care for their daughter and paying their mortgage. They never had to worry about being dropped from coverage because Alice is a fighter and isn’t going to give in easily to this disease. Survival doesn’t bring financial stress, rather it breeds an opportunity for this girl to inspire millions with her attitude, perspectives and accomplishments. Would that have happened here to a poor or middle-class family? If the Affordable Care Act is repealed, like Governor Romney and Congressman Paul want, will it ever?