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 An Interview with Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Page 2 of 3)

An Interview with Debbie Wasserman Schultz

 

GB: I think those are the two keys to the situation. First, you know your child better than anyone and second, honesty.

DWS: And, for it was really important, the reason that I kept it so quiet and did not even tell most of my close family was I just did not want anyone to slip accidentally in front of my kids in conversation and have my children hear it from someone other than me, especially with as public a life as I lead. I just really wanted to tell them. I had a plan. I felt strongly about when it was best to tell them, and I wanted to control that. The other issue for people with serious illnesses is whether you are someone in the public eye like I am or someone who is dealing with illnesses at a professional, as well as in their personal life, I did not want it to define me. I have had other women come up to me since I have made my diagnosis public who share the same fearó that it is very difficult when you are working. You do not want people making decisions for you about what you are capable of handling while dealing with your health care challenge and I did not want that to happen to me.

GB: You know, on another subject, obviously we watched the Terri Schiavo situation very closely a few years ago. Do you have any thoughts or any advice for young adults about having their own advanced directives paper work in place?

DWS: Again, it is a personal choice, but I can tell you what I learned from the Terri Schiavo controversy and from my own health care challenge was that you are not invincible, and it is possible for anyone to deal with an unexpected health care challenge. Having advanced directives is absolutely essential so that you do not have to deal with any battles like the Schiavo and the Schindler families had to go through. I am sure that most people think their family members are loving and they will be able to work it out, but you just never know. So having advanced directives in place so that your intentions are clear is extremely important. When you are younger, it is just not something you think about. It is the same reason that too many young people decide not to carry health insurance, because it is an expense that they do no think that they need until they need it. Yet most illness is
unexpected and hits you like a ton of bricks and then you are caught flat footed with a mountain of debt and with no advanced directives. God forbid anything does happen and you are incapacitated; you do not want to put your family through the angst and heartache that they would have to go through arguing about what your intentions really were.

GB: What would be the one most important piece of advice you would like to share with family caregivers?

 

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