Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Unwanted Journey: Day 0607 - Good-Bye Tammy

I thought I wouldn't say anything at all about George W. Bush's colonoscopy last week or Tammy Faye Messner's battle with colon cancer. I still think there isn't much of value to be said about Bush's colonoscopy, apart from being a very visible example of the necessity of the screening procedure.

Similarly, I share nothing of Tammy Faye's belief in God and an afterlife, but her courage is inspiring. Watching her final interview with Larry King is frightening to anyone touched by colorectal cancer. Even though she was made up, she was totally ravaged by the metastasis of her colon cancer to her lungs. Reading some of the details of her 10-year-long battle, the remissions and apparent cures of both colon and lung cancer, the return to treatment and hospice care, and the obvious debilitating effects - can anyone who has experienced colorectal cancer not be affected?

Ironically, Tammy Faye may well be remembered, not so much for her over-the-top mascara and eyelashes or her involvement with Jim Bakker and the PTL Club fiasco, but for her courage facing cancer and her support for people in the gay community when so many other evangelicals railed against gays and lesbians and counted AIDS as God's punishment against their lifestyle.

My hope is that that final image of Tammy Faye will remain lodged in the memory of people otherwise insulated from death and disease, that her bravery in appearing on Larry King Live just one day before dying will demonstrate the beauty of a triumphal human spirit, and that we who so fear this disease will take comfort in knowing that whatever is taken from us, there is a core that nobody, no disease, can ever steal away.  

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