On the eve of a federal election campaign, the Federal Minister of Transport, Chuck Strahl, made an emotional speech to the House of Commons, thanking Prime Minister Stephen Harper for naming him to cabinet on the heels of his mesothelioma diagnosis — a lung cancer that resulted from years of exposure to asbestos. He recalled Harper’s words of encouragement at the time — “Don’t let people tell you that you can’t still contribute, don’t let them push you aside.”
A Member of Parliament since 1993, Strahl said that “Cancer survivors need to hear words like that, and they need to know in their heart that they are true.”
This is so true. It is so important for cancer survivors who choose to continue working during their treatment, as I did, to have the support and understanding of their colleagues. We don't want their pity, and we are not asking to do less........ We can actually work, and work hard. It's even good for our confidence and morale to do so.
Strahl is someone I have worked with up in Ottawa. He is a genuinely kind, generous and likeable man. He also has that rare wisdom that cancer survivors do, which gives him that special humility and understanding. He is also a runner.......another plus! It is people like this that are true leaders in our society. They provide hope and inspiration for cancer survivors of all stripes, and encourage us to do, and be, our best.
Chuck Strahl did his last vote in the House of Commons today. He's retiring in order to spend more time with his wife and grandchildren. I wish him all the best, and can't wait to see what brilliant contribution he will be making to society next.