Back on her farm, Ellen Craswell walks with crutches and gets periodic visits from a physical therapist.
She faces nine months of chemotherapy. And she is getting so much mail from well-wishers that the letter carrier has resorted to delivering it in garbage bags.
Craswell, just more than a month after she lost the race for governor, is waging her second fight against cancer.
And from personal correspondence to public pronouncements, her image has suddenly been transformed: from a Republican Christian conservative whose ideas about slashing government and infusing biblical morality into public policy were soundly rejected by voters, to a vulnerable grandmother gripped by a frightening disease. Cancer already has killed her father, mother, grandfather, her younger brother and a nephew.
The letters, she said, have come from everywhere: Democrats, teenagers, people who didn’t agree with a word she said during the campaign but wish her a speedy recovery nevertheless.
Democratic rival, Gov.-elect Gary Locke, upon hearing the news of her illness, sent flowers and a note.
“It was a very nice note,” Craswell, 64, told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an interview this week, propped up in an oversized electronic reclining chair. “It said, ‘Mona and I are praying for you.”’ Then she quickly adds: “I didn’t hear him saying that during the campaign.”
The same faith that became the signature of her candidacy has become the vehicle that allows her to remain relentlessly calm in the face of death.
“I know she could go,” said Bruce Craswell, her husband of 43 years. “But there is no fear. Most people think, ‘How do you cope?’ We don’t feel we have anything to ‘cope’ with.”
Last week, doctors at the University of Washington removed a fistsized, cancerous tumor from Ellen Craswell’s right thigh. They say there is a 90 percent to 95 percent chance the liposarcoma will not return in the next five years.
Craswell will undergo nine months of chemotherapy as a precaution.
“Fourteen years ago the Lord used it (cancer) to slow me down and study the word and learn to trust him more,” Craswell said, recalling her 1982 ovarian cancer, which went into remission after a year of chemotherapy.