Obviously, if you are reading this journal, you know very clearly that my darling wife Aileen died of liver cancer in 2010. You also know that it was one of the most devastating experiences of my entire life. You also know that my father died of cancer my grandfather died of cancer and that I actually had a form of throat cancer in 1969. And if you have been reading my journal for a while, you also know that I am a first aid certified technician and that as a result of that I was not only a caregiver to a very wonderful people some very close friends who died of different forms of cancer. But also that as a result of my first aid status Iowans designated to be my darling wife Aileen's caregiver. None of this makes me special in any way. Because I'm not. There are so many amazing and wonderful men women and children right now doing with this extremely horrible disease that I could never under any circumstances consider myself special.
And I write the above because I consider Valerie Harper to be a very brilliant and wonderful artist and a really fantastic human being who has contributed tremendously to this country. And personally I don't really care what form of cancer she has. It doesn't matter. She is just as brilliant and just as courageous as any one of us. Any child and a wonderful and protein woman or man who was dealing with any kind of cancer. As practically anyone knows who has ever dealt with or lost someone they love so very dearly from cancer it's impossible to watch someone you love dies from cancer and remain unchanged. That doesn't happen. Because when you lose someone to cancer whether it is your mother or your father or your sister or your brother or your son or your daughter or your husband or your wife or your partner or even a close friend it's impossible to remain unchanged. Your life and everything about you changes in every conceivable way.
Suffering and tragedy is a hugely relative concept in our world. There are so many different forms of tragedy and suffering going on every single second. Tragedy and suffering that is so bad that most people just don't pay much attention to it because it's too hard to deal with. But whether we pay attention or not does not change the level of tragedy and suffering. The numbers of children who are dying as a result of violence and as a result of starvation or lack of medical care or inappropriate or inadequate medical care in the world is over 14 million children per year. 14 million children. In 1969 the year after I got out of the hospital after my spinal surgery I began asking the question not only of my contemporaries but of just about anyone who I encountered. I began asking why if we are going to allow so many millions of children to die under these horrible conditions. I mean, if we're going to let 14 million children die every year as a result of violence or all of these other inappropriate excuses on our part. In 1969, I suggested to one of my teachers that if we were going to let 14 million children die this way or under these conditions. Maybe we should just take 14 million children and put them on an island and then blow up the island is that way we could expedite the process and not have to see all the suffering in and argue over the politics.
Naturally, when I suggested that people thought I was completely insane some thought I was cruel. But those people who thought those things didn't really understand. And they didn't understand because they didn't realize that in reality I would do anything in the bucket save any of these children because every single time we lose one of these children are one of these brilliant men or women, we lose another brother or sister or father or son or daughter or husband or wife or a good friend, we lose another doctor or lawyer or possibly a great teacher or a fantastic athlete we lose another brilliant musician or a brilliant artist or perhaps just a really great writer or even just a fantastic mother or father but we still lose.
With regard to Valerie Harper is just my personal opinion, ladies and gentlemen that's all it is. But I think the media needs to leave her alone. I don't think she needs to be inspected or interrogated I don't think that's fair. She's a wonderful American she's a wonderful woman just like the millions of women in this country who are dealing with cancer every day you can't see my face so you can't see the tears streaming down my cheeks and of course you can't see how much pain I'm in having lost my wife but hopefully you can feel the passion in what I'm writing to know that what I'm trying to say is that not only does our Harper deserve our respect and our support but so does every single person in this country regardless of who they are regardless of what they've done regardless of how much money or little money they have whether they are well known or not every single person in this country who is dealing with cancer not to mention any of the other horrible diseases that are killing all of us every one of these brilliant and amazing souls deserves our respect and our support. If we can't do that then what the hell are we here in this world for?
Every day when I do have the opportunity or when I have to go out and go shopping as anyone who reads my journal knows I walk. And it doesn't take long for someone to watch me before they realize that walking and I have a real problem. It's very difficult for new walkways, Joan. That's just partially because of the number of physical issues that are part of my life and it's not a big deal I still walk. But the thing is that when I'm out walking I meet some of the most amazing people in the world I made some of the most incredible people I could ever imagine ever encountering. I meet people of all ages I met a brilliant young lady today who actually lives in my neighborhood who just left me speechless and at the same time filled me with a tremendous amount of hope bigger she is so intelligent she is so expanded and are thinking that it literally filled me with hope as I went on my way
I met another lady who was in her 50s and also having trouble walking. And she was actually using a walker which was really sort of an amazing device because it had a kind of place where she could put she was carrying in the walker and we stopped and talked for several minutes and then it came out. Her husband died of cancer. And then our eyes met and we both knew. We just understood each other totally and completely because we both are in exactly the same place. We both lost someone we loved very dearly that we had committed our entire lives to who died of cancer.
I am so very proud of Valerie Harper for being on dancers with the stars. Because of her doing that reminds me of someone else that a lot of people don't know about who is equally as courageous but in another way. Her name is Elaine Boosler. Now some of you may have heard that name but the most remarkable thing about Elaine Boosler is that she was a very brilliant and wonderful standup comedian here in the United States. And then a friend of hers died of cancer and it moved her so deeply that she left the world of entertainment and she became a kind of therapist to people who are dealing with cancer she does something really remarkable something that really helps people who are suffering with cancer. She teaches them how to laugh.
Some might read this journal entry and wonder why, and even writing it because it doesn't seem to have much point and yet others will read this journal article and understand exactly why I am writing it and there is the point. My darling Aileen and I were married for 18 years. And a lot of times during our marriage she would sometimes say to me that I didn't or I don't or I wasn't telling her how much I love her. Although I did say that quite often. But my response was always the same. I would tell her,”you want to know how I love you. Watch me. Watch what I do. For there be my love for thee.”
That's my point, ladies and gentlemen. That's why I'm writing this article. Because I love every single person in this world as much as I love my darling Aileen though not in the same way but just as much. And I really do believe that what we need to do as a nation is to not worry so much about the details regarding Valerie Harper and what kind of cancer. She has the kind of cancer in the details may mean something to the medical community but to all of us in reality she has cancer that should be all we need to know. She has cancer. Let's maybe stop worrying so much about the details and start concentrating on the facts.
They are dying every day ladies and gentlemen brilliant, wonderful men and women and children not only here in the United States but all over the world they are dying from cancer and so many other horrible things that it basically staggers the mind. But therein lies the test of the human soul. Are we strong enough to stand up against this darkness that we face with courage and our hearts and and to declare to the darkness that we will mount in fact turn away that we will stand our ground and defend each other and stand by each other no matter what. Because as anyone knows when you have someone you love who is dying of cancer that's exactly what you have to do. Maybe it's about time as I said that we stopped worrying about the details and declare that no matter what we will not turn away in the face of the start is that we will press on.
My heart and my prayers and hopes for good energy and all good things always go out to Valerie Harper and to everyone who is suffering. In the 62 years I've lived in this world I kept hoping that things would get better and instead they have gotten worse but I will never lose hope. To my dying breath, I will never lose hope that we as human beings will finally find that place within ourselves where we can stand together as one species here in this world who will declare within our hearts and souls that we will not turn away from the darkness that we will stand our ground side by side knowing we are all one and that one any one of us is suffering we are all suffering.
As I said in the scheme of things I don't matter one bit to this journal article there is 7 billion lives in this world and most of them are suffering so badly that now more than ever before in human history they need that those of us who have the wherewithal within ourselves to stand fast and not turn away from that darkness. To stand fast and be that stalwart character. To be that comrade in arms who was stand there and always extend our hand to those who are in need. I hope all of you will take a moment sometime tonight or tomorrow when you find the time and perhaps say a prayer for not only Valerie Harper but for all those who are suffering because so many of them aren't dying alone.
It's been a long day. It's now 16 minutes after 6 PM and I think what I'm probably going to do is have something to eat and then put on funny movie something I can fall asleep to and then as I sleep my darling Aileen will come to me in my dream and as always I will say to her as I always do. You want to see my love. Watch me because in all that I do there and be my love.