In public life, State Sen. Mike Flood has always had his priorities in order.
In private life, the husband and father does, too.
Flood's wife, Mandi, received a breast cancer diagnosis this week, and her husband quickly withdrew from the governor's race to be at her side and with their two young sons.
The 37-year-old state senator from Norfolk was the second-youngest person elected speaker of Nebraska's Legislature, a challenging post that he has capably filled for six years. Time magazine named him one of the “40 under 40” rising young stars in U.S. politics.
As speaker, Flood has led with fairness, steadiness and vision. He respectfully juggled the interests and priorities of 48 other lawmakers while providing real leadership for the legislative branch of government. He has shown a talent for mediation on a series of tough issues, including the Commission of Industrial Relations, relocation of the State Fair, the Keystone XL pipeline, Republican River water management and embryonic stem-cell research.
Flood joined the race for the 2014 GOP governor's nomination after criss-crossing the state and talking with many of his fellow Nebraskans. He leaves the race saying, “It's been a true joy to travel Nebraska the last six months, to serve as speaker the last six years. This is a great state, with a bright future.”
All politicians must balance their public and private lives, and it is easy for the rest of us to forget how difficult that can be.
Sometimes, families get the lower priority. Sometimes, public service should take a back seat.
This is one of those times.
“Right now, all I want to concentrate on is helping her make a 100 percent recovery,” Flood said Thursday.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among U.S. women, except for skin cancers. About 1-in-8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetimes.
In 2012, the Cancer Society estimates, about 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women, along with 63,300 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS), a noninvasive form of breast cancer. About 39,510 women are expected to die from breast cancer this year. In Nebraska, the estimates are for about 1,270 new cases this year. In Iowa, the estimate is 2,350 cases.
Folks who have found themselves in these circumstance — and there are many — know what the Floods are going through right now. Putting family first is most assuredly the right decision.
All Nebraskans can join in offering their hopes for a speedy recovery to the Floods and to the other women and families who are battling this disease.