Every family in state Sen. Clint Stennett's legislative District 21, which includes Blaine County, knows of the frightful emotional and physical burden that strikes when a family member or friend is diagnosed with a serious illness.
Stennett's challenge is especially formidable: He's been diagnosed with brain cancer, for which he had surgery in late January and for which he now will be treated with extended radiation.
In the spirit that always develops when one of their own, regardless of political party, is gravely ill, state legislators on the Republican and Democratic sides have rallied to Stennett's side with their hearty best wishes and pledged to keep his seat warm during treatment by temporarily designating former Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson as Stennett's pinch-hitter during the 2008 session.
Stennett, however, will not be a full-time absentee. When not being treated, he'll return to his duties and carry on serving his state and district with the same verve as usual.
It's a combination of the miracle of modern medicine and sheer personal grit that will keep Stennett actively pursuing his career even as he faces this challenge.
Aside from hoping for the best outcome of this awful moment in Sen. Stennett's life, all Idahoans salute his determination to continue serving the public while balancing the rigors of cancer treatment.
The support Stennett is experiencing received no finer testament than that of former Idaho House Speaker Bruce Newcomb, a Burley Republican, who was diagnosed in 1993 with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Newcomb has signed on as Stennett's "coach" to get him through this experience. Stennett can now live every politican's dream: Everyone is on his side.