July 30th, 2007
04:22 PM ET
12 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. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Francis Turner ~ Delaware

    You wrote, "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."

    I can GAURANTEE hearing your words Mitt and Ann both would trade your pathetic vote in exchange for Ann being authentic about what she was feeling when diagnosed with MS.

    I sincerely hope Karma gives you the chance to experience what Ann has – so we can all judge your words.

    And it's Romney not "Roomey".

    July 31, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  2. Ryan Provo, UT

    I echo the other commenters here who are totally surprised that this was somehow considered news. I'm a liberal and I don't support Romney but this is really reaching for controversy here. Seriously CNN, posting this reflects much more poorly on your priorities than it does on Mrs. Romney's communication abilities.

    As for her comments, people are often irrational when they face death, especially the long drawn out death that MS brings. It was poorly phrased but it was a reasonable sentiment and I, for one, appreciate her candor.

    July 31, 2007 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  3. Michele, Alexandria, VA

    Depending on the type of MS she has, she may have it easy and nobody can tell that she has MS. I speak from experience, I have MS. The type I have is the relapsing/remitting. I was diagnosed also back in 1998 and have been in the hospital three times due to my MS. I also understand the depression that comes with the news of having a life altering condition, but you learn to deal with as best you can. If you can't deal with it on your own, turn to your friends and family, if that doesn't work then you seek professional help. Having MS does not shorten your life span as a rule, where cancer on the other hand can and often does. If she is lucky she will have few exacerbations and is on some type of treatment. I do wish her luck with her treatment and life, but I also agree with the people who have cancer who were outraged by her comments. She may want to think before she speaks again regarding her MS and how she feels about having it and what it has done to her life.

    July 31, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Tom Dedham, Mass

    Charles I am from Mass and I can assure that they NEVER made this a focal point of any campaign and NEVER used it to gain sympathy. NEVER.

    She is a hero to anyone that wishes to grace that upon her, but she isn't looking for that to be bestowed either.

    July 31, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  5. T.R.H Georgia

    I'm a liberal Democrat. But I know from where Anne was speaking from. she said in the people magazine interview she was going through a rough period and was very depressed when she said this. What she said about wishing to die, was from her past. I am thankful that she was honest about how she was feeling. How it really was for her living with MS. I have MS and so many times I get people telling me that "it's not that bad", etc.
    I would like to add to those who know very little about MS. That Depression is very common in those with MS. That MS can cause the MS, as well as just living with MS can cause Depression. Not to mention that it's one of the side effects of some of the medicines for MS. Also, the suicide rate w/people with MS is higher than those w/out it.
    For more info about MS one can vist the National MS Society.

    August 1, 2007 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  6. Patricia Jacksonville, Florida

    Can we trade? My husband can have Romney's multiple sclerosis and she can have my husband's multiple myeloma
    (bone marrow cancer). At least then maybe he'll get to see our 3 kids graduate from high school.
    What a stupid comment Romney made (and has, amazingly, made more than once!). She should know better.

    August 6, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  7. Cambridge, Mass

    Interesting article...

    Carmelo Lisciotto

    September 27, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. early symptom of lung cancer, Grand Rapids,MI

    If she could retract those words I think she would.

    December 21, 2007 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
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