The TMI saga continues

After blogging about Emma Keller’s article in The Guardian about Lisa Adams (read my thoughts here), I felt better. Reading the comments that came in response to that blog made me feel better still. But now I feel bad again. And mad. Really mad. As if Keller’s article wasn’t bad enough/mean enough/hateful enough/out-of-line enough, now her husband has gotten in on the hating.

That’s right, her husband.

He too is a writer, for The New York Times, no less. He joined the fray, I can only assume in an attempt to defend his wife, for whom the fallout has not been kind. His article misses the mark as much as his wife’s article did, IMHO, and he makes a really lame comparison as the basis for his point.

He compares the way Lisa has handled and is handling her cancer to the way his father-in-law succumbed to his cancer. Lisa is in her 40s with three boys to raise. Bill Keller’s father-in-law was a few weeks shy of 80. Can we really compare the situation of a still-young mother to that of a man nearly 40 years her senior, who also faced kidney disease, diabetes, and dementia? I think not.

Mr Keller chooses to break the same rule his wife broke; the one rule that should remain forever unbroken in talking about a cancer patient and how s/he chooses to handle that cancer: don’t judge.

Mr Keller judges, right alongside his wife.

For example, he writes that “every cancer need not be Verdun, a war of attrition waged regardless of the cost or the casualties.”

Like his wife, he wonders aloud, in his column, about the cost of Lisa’s treatment. Which is none. of. anyone’s. business. He even calls into question her partaking of Sloan-Kettering’s Caring Canines program, in which “patients get a playful cuddle iwth visiting dogs.” He whines about neither Lisa nor Sloan-Kettering not telling him how much “all this costs and whether it is covered by insurance.”

Really?? He begrudges a critically-ill woman’s choice to pet a dog and is pissy because he’s not privy to how much it’s costing her?

He characterizes his father-in-law’s choice to stop pursuing life-extending measures as “humane and honorable” and calm and enviable, while Lisa’s is the opposite, in which she is “constantly engaged in battlefield strategy with her medical team.”

Again, this is none.of. anyone’

Perhaps the worst part of Mr Keller’s piece is this: “Adams is the standard-bearer for an approach to cancer that honors the warrior, that may raise false hopes, and that, implicitly seems to peg patients like my father-in-law as failures.”

If Lisa Adams wants to be the standard-bearer for one-eyed-one-horned-flying-purple-people-eaters, it is none of Mr Keller’s damn business. If she wants to wave a flag, Braveheart-style, it is none of his concern. If she wants to depend on hope to endure the hell-on-Earth she’s currently living with, he is the last person who should be flapping his gums about it. If she considers herself a success for doing what she felt was best for her and her family in her particular situation, why would any of us take umbrage? Shame on both Kellers.

20 Comments on “The TMI saga continues”

  1. Catherine says:

    It is ridiculous…

  2. David Benbow says:

    I would say that the amount of public outcry should tell them that they’ve touched a nerve and they should cut their losses and walk away. I stand by my comment from last time.

  3. Jo says:

    Shame on the Kellers!!

  4. esvercl says:

    Oh my God, I pray that I can write this because I am shaking. How dare he have any comment on a woman’s health, any woman’s health! You point out correctly that he misses the poor comparison of his Father-In-Law to Lisa, both of whom I 100% support in their treatment options, by the way. This whole experience lacks professionalism from the Kellers and from two major publishers and may just help to contribute to many losses in the subscription department. That is as polite as I can be in a statement about these two, they are not worth more of my time and neither are their publications.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    It’s ridiculous for the Kellers to go on. Everyone who fights a disease does it in their own way and on there on terms. No one has the right to criticize or judge the way a person fights his or her disease . It’s no one else’s business. These people are fighting for their lives and should be encouraged to do it their way. Don’t people have enough to do than to criticize people on how they fight their life threatening fights!!!!!!!!sorry it really irritates me when people stick their noses in others business and then judge and criticize!!!!!!!!

  6. Patti Ross says:

    Thanks for continuing the saga. I cannot fathom the Kellers and how myopic they are being about this matter. How can they be so judgmental, so self-absorbed. I wonder how his father-in-law would have been supported if he had chosen to fight.

    • I wondered the same thing, Patti, and was tempted to smart off in the comment section of Bill Keller’s piece to tell him that if he’s so enamored with how cancer patients face end-of-life decisions in England then perhaps he should head there straightaway.

  7. Marie says:

    I so angry yesterday when I read your piece and the offending article in full that I was incapable of saying what I wanted to say. Luckily you said it for me! FYI the piece has now been removed from the Guardian website!

  8. Lauren says:

    I have reached the vomit stage with all this…well said, shame shame shame.

  9. Barbara says:

    Yes, Keller whines about how much Lisa’s treatment may be costing but I doubt he thought twice last year when his wife opted for a DIEP reconstrucion (after her BMX for DCIS), which she says on her blog cost a cool quarter of a million.

    Now of course she’s entitled to whatever reconstruction she wants but it seems a touch hypocritical and entitled for him to go on about (volunteer) Caring Canines. Reconstruction may be life-enhancing — and that’s important, don’t get me wrong — but it is not life-extending or life-saving.

  10. Jan Hasak says:

    Amen, Nancy. Shame on both Kellers. Maybe they are jealous of just how much of a following a blogger can have who doesn’t work for a traditional journal. How their prestigious employers decide to publish rubbish like this is beyond me. No sensitivity. No common sense. No sense at all. Nonsense. Keep up the discourse; it’s important to keep journalists on their toes. XOX

  11. Still. It’s an interesting question to consider. Can we ever truly put cancer behind us? Isn’t it always lurking just behind the door, ready to pounce on us again? And does Lisa Adams represent our worst fears about cancer returning? Is that the real reason Ms Keller why she should just stay quiet and not be so in our faces – a public reminder of a private fear? A fear which maybe so hidden it can never be publicly acknowledged?

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