July 30th, 2007
04:22 PM ET
4 years ago

Cancer survivors angered by Ann Romney's comments

Mitt and Ann Romney

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is facing criticism from some cancer patients and survivors for saying in a magazine interview that, rather than continue living with multiple sclerosis, she once wished she could “just have cancer and die.”

Ann Romney, who was diagnosed with the degenerative nerve disease in 1998, said in a recent interview with People magazine, “It wasn't as though I was suicidal, but I was at the point where I thought, ‘Couldn't I please just have cancer and die?’”

The comment received an angry reaction from Leroy Sievers, a journalist who has been chronicling his own battle with cancer on National Public Radio.

“Cancer does not bring a quick death. Cancer is painful and debilitating,” said Sievers on his “My Cancer” blog on NPR’s Web site. “Cancer wreaks havoc on the life of anyone who has it and the lives of the people who care about them. Cancer twists the present and steals the future. Cancer hurts.”

Many of the 100-plus readers who commented on Sievers’ posting were also critical of Mrs. Romney’s statements, though some were more charitable.

“Ms. Romney is to be forgiven. She is suffering, too. I'll bet we have all opened our mouths and said something we were sorry for later,” said one reader.

Carolyn Weyforth, a Romney campaign spokeswoman, told CNN, “Mrs. Romney was recounting a very real and very difficult emotional reaction to the news about her disease. It’s something that many people go through, and it’s an honest reflection about a difficult period of her life. It’s a reflection that has obviously evolved as she has come to terms with the disease.”

– CNN Political Researcher Xuan Thai


Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Scott Austin, TX

    Wait a while, she'll flip-flop on her quote.

    July 30, 2007 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  2. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Unlike other people, she has not made this a major issue now or when Romney was Governor. She used a poor analogy and should be forgiven for the choice of words.

    She is wonderful, strong and heroic woman, who should be applauded not reveiled.

    July 30, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Pixie, Murfreesboro, TN

    Yeah that's a pretty tacky thing to say. I'm sure she didn't mean it the way it was taken though.

    July 30, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. S. Richard, Olathe, KS

    Everybody simmer down and get a grip! This is a sorry excuse for a "scandal" if I've ever seen one. Ann isn't the one running for president, anyway.

    July 30, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  5. tanya, manhattan beach, ca

    Will the Political Correctness Police please give it a rest!! Although, I'm a Democrat, and would oppose Romney's election even if I were a Republican, his wife's statement is so understandable, even if it's a bit thoughtless. Censorship, which is what political correctness sounds like much of the time, is so much more distasteful than Mrs. Romney's comment.

    July 30, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  6. James, Phoenix AZ

    "Cancer survivors angered.."

    Good grief – the woman is dealing with MS. She was emotionally expressing the weight of realizing a life of dealing with a slowly debilitating illness.

    "Cancer does not bring a quick death. Cancer is painful and debilitating"

    Not always true, Mr Sievers. Certainly there are many who suffer and deal with pain for years. Likewise there are many (such as my grandmother) that are diagnosised – and dead within 6 months.

    You should be thanking God you have the breath and ability to express your overly sensitive outrage!

    July 30, 2007 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  7. Angie Cousineau, Mountain Home, AR

    First we want our polititians to be honest then we are angry when they are.

    I am sure that Mrs. Romney felt that way momentarily and I admire her honesty in relating something so personal to the public forum.

    Now she nor a lot of other public figures will be so forth-coming in the future. Why do so just to be attacked.

    Disibilities in any form are stressful and hard to deal with. Instead of attacking her give her some support.

    As for the reporter with cancer, my heart goes out to him. I wish him the best in his battle. He has not had MS and has no clue how Ms. Romney felt during that black moment. I am certain she did not know what she was wishing for when that thought flitted through her mind.

    Disease is a hard thing to live with in any form. All the healthy people that want to be critical should instead be grateful it isn't them!

    Everyone knows that Ms. Romney did not mean it in a vicious way. Why is everyone so ready to attack everyone else over such a simple faux pas? Our society is becoming very vengeful.

    July 30, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. Ed, Fort Lauderdale

    I take exception to her comment, but will give her the benefit of a doubt in that she was reacting to her own emotional strife at the time.

    I was once a person with cancer and beat it a long time ago. One never knows how one will react when diagnosed with a serious disease.

    I wish her well and continued courage in her battle.

    July 30, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  9. Fallen, Indy, IN

    She should apologize for using bad example and end it.

    July 30, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  10. Thom, Orlando, Fl

    I agree with most of the comments here, this isn't something to get all upset about. The only comment that I have a problem with is "she isn't running, Mitt is" well, niether are any of the other wives (and neither was Hillary Clinton when her husband did) and they have all been scrutinized. I don't think Ms. Romney should be any different.

    July 30, 2007 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  11. Donna Ange, New Bern, NC

    Get a grip. The woman was suffering with MS and looking at a bleak future, and like many of us who have had cancer, looked for alternatives. Having had cancer four times, the last being State three lung cancer, I wanted to go to the ocean and just lay down and die. But I perservered and here I am. Congratulations to Mrs Romney for perservering to find ways to manage through.

    July 30, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  12. Charles Wilson

    I'm a Democrat who wouldn't vote for Mitt Romney at the point of a gun. I think he's about as phony as it gets, and I wouldn't trust the man farther than I could throw him.

    But I also have multiple sclerosis, and I absolutely understand the sentiment behind Mrs. Romney's words. What she said should not be a political issue. Whoever is going after her for this should BACK OFF. Now.

    At the same time, let's hope the Romney campaign doesn't use this as some sort of political issue either. Mrs. Romney isn't any sort of "hero." She's a woman with a nasty disease. There are all kinds of people who have it bad in this country. No one calls them heroes, so no one should be calling her a hero either.

    July 30, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. Laura; Huntsville, AL

    I can't possibly understand how an editor found this to be newsworthy. The wife of a politician is suffering from debilitating illness and, here's Cnn's news about it: she said something borderline politically incorrect relating to her disease.
    Here's a thought: Let's have REAL news. Let's have a section devoted EQUALLY to all candidates. Many people don't know who Kucinich or Ron Paul are, much less what they are about, but they do know that Obama's wife is a fashion icon. How about supplying links to candidates' webpages. How about outlining what each candidate has chosen to represent, instead of attacking the frontrunner's spouses over crap like this. It is the responsibility of the media to shed light on candidates so that we the people can decide for ourselves who is best to run for the country. Its not that Americans aren't intelligent enough to make informed decisions relating to something as important as who runs the country, its that we're not informed! DO YOUR JOBS RIGHT AND LIKE WE TRUST YOU TO DO!

    July 30, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  14. Shawnie - Grants Pass, OR

    Ann probably had personal experience with someone who died quickly from cancer. My own grandmother went very fast from first discomfort and diagnosis to death, under two months.

    Her remarks are innocent enough. The people who don't look so hot are the ones who use this as a platform for viscious attacks.

    Do you not see the huge hypocrisy? They are faulting her for not being sensitive enough, and do so by being quite offensive and abrasive. A simple, graceful correction to a graceful lady would have been appropriate.

    The getting all bent out of shape says more about Sievers than about any one else.

    July 30, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  15. kay schroeder, aliso viejo, ca

    Can't anyone have an opinion, especially about themselves without getting criticized? Whatever happened to freedom of speech?

    July 30, 2007 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. Chris Day

    I use to work for Biogen Idec we made cures for People with MS, this woman is clearly not a progressive MS patient, meaning she is and can be in pain but she is not in a wheel chair or in bed 24/7 hooked up to a morphine pump. If she thinks cancer is the lesser of two evils than lets just send her to Iraq and she can breathe in some DU and then she will have cancer like %60 of our fighting force in Iraq will have in the coming century

    PS Biogen Idec took the block buster drug “Tysabri” when it killed two people, ask an MS patient if they care, all drugs will kill a % of people but will also make life bearable

    July 30, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. troqua, Austin, TX

    "State" 3, huh?

    Look, MS is a horrible condition. I empathize with anyone who has it. But let's be real. I know people with MS in my family, and I have known people with cancer in my family. Those with cancer are no longer with us. Those with MS are coping, surviving, and leading productive lives. Her comment was said in the moment, but it was pretty stupid. I promise Mrs. Romney, she wouldn't want to have cancer over MS.

    Other than that, move along, kids. Nothing to see here.

    July 30, 2007 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  18. Frances Turner, Seaford, Delaware

    I think Mrs. Roomey had better wake up and realize what she just said. I have just finished breast cancer treatment after a year and 4 months. Cancer was worst on my husband then on me and he gave me more support than anyone. She probably is not getting enough support from her husband for MS. She has angered every cancer patient in the world and her husband will not get my support on anything now for what she just said.

    July 30, 2007 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  19. Flanigan Buena Vista Virginia

    People need to back off. If someone was in that much pain, they may very well wish to die, and she is not a coward for saying so, she was telling the truth. I'm not a cancer patient, but I've read several books written by those who were, and accoring to them, some people do get to that point. It's a hard place to be at. My sympathy is with any one in pain, but not when you use it for political purposes. So good for you if you haven't, but lay off those who have.

    July 30, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  20. Al, Kailua, Hawaii

    Isn't it okay for her to have these feelings? Can she not admit them publicly? We all seem to want more honesty and authenticity from politicians (and their associates)until we hear something that we don't agree with. Cry the beloved country.

    July 30, 2007 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  21. Joe, Orange County, CA

    He lost me when he strapped his dog to the top of his car for 12 hours.

    July 30, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  22. trippin

    My mother had MS. Funny, she never said she wished she would just have cancer and die. And my father who worked in the coal mines since he was thirteen years old had to care for her because we didn't have the financial resources of a Presidential candidate. Trust me, her life could be a lot worse. She should be thankful for everything she's got.

    July 30, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  23. John Wilson Racine WI

    Get a grip! This woman obviously is as dippy as her husband...there is nothing to get too excited about here! What would you expect from this couple?

    July 31, 2007 04:38 am at 4:38 am |
  24. Jeff, Houston, Texas

    I fully support her statement. Until you have been down the path of a serious illness, you cannot imagine some of the feelings you will experience. Her statment sounded genuine and honest. I understand what she is trying to say. i wish her all the best for some kind of recovery.

    However, her husband is still a whacko. Happy to see that someone in the household is in contact with the real world.

    July 31, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Looking for Scandal anywhere you can find it eh guys? Musta surprised you when people werent calling for her head on a platter..

    July 31, 2007 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
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