Less than a week after Elizabeth Edwards announced that her breast cancer had returned, President Bush’s press secretary, Tony Snow, has discovered that the colon cancer for which he was treated in 2005 has metastasized.

Snow, 51 and the father of three children, had surgery on Monday to remove a small growth in his abdomen. On Tuesday, the White House announced that the cancer was found in Snow’s liver. “His attitude is one that he is not going to let this whip him. And he’s upbeat,” Bush told reporters. “My attitude is that we need to pray for him and his family.”

Even the most partisan of Americans will agree.

There are dozens of things that can be said about Snow’s diagnosis. It’s unfair, it’s a shame, it’s heartbreaking. What can’t be said is that cancer is Democratic or Republican.

Tony Snow and John and Elizabeth Edwards understand this. Snow called the Edwardses last week to express his support for them. The couple responded in kind over the weekend, calling Snow to wish him luck during his surgery. Cancer survivors understand that there are some situations in which politics must take a back seat.

— Ann DuBay