Wallace Edgerton, Mayor of Menifee, submits this "open letter" to the press concerning his health and future as Mayor...
This is an open letter to many of my friends and acquaintances including the press - - all of whose calls I have not returned as I have been recuperating from a lung transplant surgery. In the week just before my surgery we were shocked to learn that my dear wife Judee has esophageal cancer and must face radiation, chemo therapy and surgery. We are both staying in Los Angeles and being cared for by Cedars Sinai hospital. We both realize we have a mountain to climb but both of us plan on being back to Menifee soon and serving our community if fortune should allow us that continued privilege.
When I ran for office in 2008 I assumed I had an opportunity to serve Menifee for as long as the community wanted me to serve. But for the last two years I became aware that I was dying from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It is a terminal disease with no cure. The only solution is a lung transplant and until this last February I was told I was not eligible. I am very grateful that I was able to meet my responsibilities and enjoy life to the fullest with my friends even though I knew I was dying. There was no hope and I had no fear. I had no plans, no agenda or any desire other than to be a good husband , mayor and teacher. My dear sweet Judee was and continues to be my rock. She would give me cover in public and comfort in our time alone. But now that I understand how sick Judee is I feel deeply vulnerable after many months of feeling no vulnerability. I feel like Superman after he lost all his powers, I once again feel all the mortal feelings of fear. And the kind thoughts and prayers of my friends and those who might care would be the most cherished treasure we might possess at this time. Judee and I are getting the best care at one of America's best hospitals and her medical team tells me Judee's chances of survival are excellent.
Because some young man lost his life I now have a new lung. Everybody should know the life saving gift of being an organ donor. One donor can provide as many as 30 other people the gift of life. So many people die waiting in vain for that donation; children, mothers, husbands and parents. I urge you to to become knowledgeable on this matter if you are not already aware. The disease I have takes as many lives each year as breast cancer. It can strike anybody. Marlon Brando, Robert Goulet and Eval Kineval died from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and Robert Goulet died at the hospital I and Judee are being treated at - - - a lung did not come in time for him. There are many diseases most of us have never heard of that destroy some of our vital organs - - being an organ donor might save somebody's child or parent . Medical diseases with the word "idiopathic" simply mean that the doctors have no idea what caused it. I have never been a smoker or a drug user and nothing like it runs in my family. Anybody can be hit with this terrible disease. Some diseases such as Judee's esophageal cancer can be traced to a cause such as smoking but Judee has never been a smoker. Gastro reflux can be a contributor so don't let those anti acid commercials make you careless - - - ask your doctor. Esophageal cancer can be cured but it is not one of the better ones to get.
I ask some of my dear friends whose calls I have not returned to please understand my current physical and mental condition. I take pride in personally returning all calls and especially to my friends; I do hope you understand. As both Judee and I recuperate we look forward to being back and enjoying your company and our wonderful city of Menifee. The city clerk and the city manager will be sitting up a remote capacity for me to continue participating in the city council meetings. Fred Twyman would continue to chair the meetings while I am near the hospital but on remote. It will provide the value of five votes especially if an additional vote is needed. It might be as much as six weeks before I can physically return - - but I will continue to participate in the meantime. It is comforting to know our new city manager Bill Rawlings is doing so well and the people like Kathy Bennett and Julie Woodruff along with a staff of fabulous people make our city run and hum regardless if some of us may not always be there to catch the baton.
As some of you may know; I served the city of Long Beach for 17 years and I am most grateful for having had that experience and have nothing but good feelings for that city; but nothing in my life has given me more fulfillment than having served this wonderful new City of Menifee. It is made up of some of the most wonderful people I have ever met . I have climbed that hill behind my home more than 100 times on many starry starry nights and in the early morning dawn with my faithful dog Pooh and have never ceased to marvel at the beauty of our valley.The view was not only of Menifee but of some of the surrounding cities also filled with some wonderful friends. One of the saddest moments of my disease was to realize I could no longer climb that hill - - the doctor tells me I should once again climb that hill and I am so looking forward to that.
Both Judee and I must continue to meet our challenge in the days ahead but with your good thoughts I know we will see you again. I know our city is in good hands with our current dedicated city council and our very competent staff. That the City of Menifee has been part of the past for Judee and me has been our blessing. We trust that the future will allow us to continue that service. This experience has taught me that all that counts in life is your health and the deep satisfaction of knowing true love. Both Judee and I have had a lifetime of love and health and so we face the future with nothing but gratitude. And so I leave you wishing you all health and true love.
Mayor, City of Menifee