Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Question No One Is Asking About Jack Layton

Here it is: Was it right of him to run in the last election knowing that he had cancer?

There, I said it..

Back in March, he faced a bunch of reporters who had concerns about his health, but who were hesitant to ask him about it because they felt it might be too personal and intrusive. Here's John Geddes' write up at the time in Maclean's:
Apparently, I’m not the only reporter who feels this way. When Layton took questions in the foyer of the House earlier today, CBC’s Laurie Graham prefaced her query about his health by saying, “It seems very personal, and I apologize for that.” Then Graham asked if Layton—who was diagnosed with prostate cancer early last year, underwent treatment, and then had hip surgery early this month—is still being treated for cancer. His answer:
Well, I work with my doctors on an ongoing basis like most people with cancer to monitor the situation. They’re happy with how things are going. And like so many people with cancer, you go off to work every day and provide for your families and get the job done. And I draw a lot of inspiration from Canadian people who are in that situation, hundreds of thousands of them, probably.
A flat out admission he still had cancer, no? Geddes goes on to write:
I reported in Maclean’s on the gist of Layton’s answers about his health. But with an election all but inevitable now, I thought there might be interest in a fuller transcript of that part of our exchange. We spoke in an NDP meeting room just off Parliament Hill on March 11, and I asked about his health before moving on to other questions:
Q.How did you break your hip?
A.I don’t know and the doctors don’t know. When I first began to feel the pain they did an X-ray and they literally could barely could see any fracture. They said it might be a fracture, why don’t we just take the weight off it and see if it heals up. Unfortunately, the bone was not able to handle the fracture. It just got worse. And before you knew it the only option was surgery. It wasn’t going to heal itself...
He didn't know and his doctors didn't know? Did no one think it might have had something to do with his cancer (since it's common knowledge in medical circles that the disease is often implicated in hip fractures)? Or did did he and they prefer to keep mum about it, and let Jack's famous optimism win out?

I guess what I'm really asking is: Did Layton and his docs have an inkling that he was sicker than he said he was, and if so, was it really responsible of him to plunge into a exhausting election campaign?


Marky Mark said...

If he thought he had a cancer that was under control and not in need of extensive or debilitating treatments, then his approach seems totally appropriate. He and others have said that the cancer that was responsible for his death was a new cancer rather than a spread of the cancer for which he was being treated. If that's true, then the extent of his disease wasn't known or forseeable prior to the election.

Having said that, to the extent there was cageiness in his answer it might have had to do with his prognosis for his prostate cancer which would have depended on what he was being told on that score (i.e., curable, treatable for a long time, treatable only for the short term). If he was told it wasn't curable but clearly treatable and likely for a long term period, again his answer makes sense. We don't know what treatments he underwent but perhaps there are some that would increase the risk of a fracture.

Anonymous said...

He was a politician to the end. This was a great opportunity to win votes.

Anonymous said...

My former MP Belinda Stronach used the cancer card to her advantage.Got herself out of a big mess with it.

Frances said...

More to the point, was it honest of the NDP to present Mr Layton to the public as a healthy man, one for whom they (the public) could vote in full confidence that he would be there to represent them over the next several years?

Accidents and illness can happen; but if the NDP knew Mr Layton's hip fracture was probably indicative of secondary cancer, then the party was certainly not being honest with the voters.

Admin said...

Sadly, the 'chalk' memorial his newly discovered followers had setup around city hall was washed away during the thunderstorm.

There IS a God after all.