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May I post an article from my blog?

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May I post an article from my blog?

Post by Helen_Davis » Tue January 22nd, 2013, 4:05 am

I wanted to post my articles that have been getting quite a few hits. May I post them here?

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Location: North Carolina

Post by boswellbaxter » Tue January 22nd, 2013, 1:34 pm

That's fine.
Susan Higginbotham
Coming in October: The Woodvilles



Evita's Death

Post by Helen_Davis » Tue January 22nd, 2013, 5:52 pm

Evita’s death is still shrouded in mystery. We know for sure that she died of cervical cancer on July 26th, 1952. And her death was one of the most profound and haunting aspects of her life, and especially for me as a writer

Some say Eva’s illness began in 1947. Suzanne Bidault, the wife of George Bidault, noted that Evita looked wan and pale in Paris. But Evita stated, according to Fraser and Navarro, that this was because her confessor, Father Benitez, allowed her to wear lipstick but not blush. Some others have said Eva’s illness began this early too, but this is contradicted by her family and Peron. Since Evita’s first definite signs of illness began on January 9th, 1950, when she fainted in public, I believe for once the Peron/Duarte family is closest to the truth.

It is known Evita delayed treatment for a long time– until it was too late. Dujone Ortiz wrote that Eva tricked nurses by putting her thermometer in backwards when they took her temperature and also did not allow nurses to draw blood. ‘Denial killed her body, but anything else would have killed her soul.’ Dujone Ortiz writes. Many of Eva’s speeches and actions indicate that she did have a belief that she was immortal. While she was dying, many of her speeches took on a truly fanatacial tone, such as saying that Christ came to bring ‘not peace but a sword and that Christ gave us an example of fanatacism. She compared Peron to Christ and other legendary figures, like Alexander the Great. Also, the fact she denied treatment perhaps shows she was immortal. If she did not believe herself immortal, statements such as stating ‘I am nothing, Peron is everything’ and that ‘I will not leave a single brick that is not Peronista!’ state she at least believed her husband was immortal. I will cover Eva’s fanataic personality and devotion to her husband in a later post.

Given the fact my mother is a gynecologist, I am priveleged to know quite a bit about the disease that killed Evita– HPV, or cervical cancer. Eva’s official diagnosis was uterine cancer, but this can be easily confused with cervical cancer since the cervix is part of the uterus and the sypmptoms are similar. However, certain forms of cervical cancer are STDs, whereas uterine cancer is not Many suspect Peron was an HPV carrier. Given that Peron’s first wife, Aurelia Tizon de Peron, died of cervical cancer, and she did not engage in the risky sexual behavior Evita did, this hypothesis is likely.

I remember reading an article in one of my mother’s medical magazines about Evita and cervical cancer, but this was in 2002 and I no longer have access to it. That Peron was a carrier, though, I must emphasize is only a hypothesis and not proven, since his third wife, Isabel Peron, does not seem to have been infected with this disease and is still living. However, Crasswaller states in his work ‘Peron and the Enigmas of Argentina’ that Peron and Isabel did not share a deep emotional commitment, so perhaps sexual relations between Peron and Isabel were rare or perhaps did not exist. It is also thought women are most vulnerable to HPV in their late teens to early 20s. Aurelia is thought to have married Peron when she was between seventeen and thirty and Evita at 24. Isabel, though, married Peron when she was 30, so another likelihood is Isabel was past the age where infection happens.

A Pap smear likely could have saved Evita’s life, but the Pap smear was not widely in use in Argentina at the time of Evita’s death. However, would Eva have accepted treatment even if she had had this life saving operation?

Eva was indeed very ill when she began her bid for the vice presidency. In several scenes in the movie Evita with Madonna, Eva faints. This is accurate– Eva often did collapse during her workdays in 1950 and 1951. She refused treatment, though, for the longest time. According to Dujone Ortiz, she is alleged to have hit the doctor who told her she was dying with her purse.

It is unknown why Peron forced Eva to step down, but by August of 1951, Eva’s illness was evident. Just a few months later, there is a photograph of her voting in her bed.Her beauty is gone and she is obviously very ill. She was in remission for awhile, but the cancer returned in 1952 and it was too late.

While Eva believed an Argentine surgeon operated on her, the person who operated on Eva was George T. Pack, a New York surgeon. It is unclear why his visit was kept secret, but unfortunately, he could not save her.

Eva was well enough in 1951 to attend Peron’s birthday, but not for the debut of her book, La Razon de mi Vida(My Mission in Life.) I believe this shows her devotion to Peron was absolute– she loved him more than she loved herself. He unfortunately did not return that love. As she was dying, according to many biographers, he isolated her in Palacio Unzue. Sure, he gave her a very elegant room, but did not visit her until the end. Evita surely would have preferred Peron by her side to all the luxuries in the world. She would overhear him smoking in the hall and say things like ‘See, General Peron is ill, doctor. Please take care of him.’

In Evita with Madonna, watching Peron care for her is heartwrenching, but I think this reflects Madonna’s wistful thinking and her love for Evita rather than reality. Madonna herself wrote about her intentions to rewrite history in order to fit Evita to her view of Mrs. Peron– and herself. To quote Madonna she said ‘I hate it that she looks like such a bitch. I guess I’d like it if she was nicer, more dimenstional.’ Eva certainly did have a softer side and was more dimensional, but her bad side is unfortunately a fact as well. Madonna interviewed a masseuse who had worked for Evita’s mother and the masseuse told Madonnna many things about Evita, including Peron’s cruelty. Madonna wrote that she was disgusted by Peron’s cruelty– as anyone would be!– and also wrote that she did not want to portray it that way. She even wrote Tim Rice that the lyrics to ‘You Must Love Me’ were not sympathetic enough to Peron and Eva’s love and rewrote them. Tim Rice rejected them and for once, Madonna backed down.

I do not blame Madonna for wanting to deny this aspect of Evita’s life, but sadly, reality is reality. Peron would often mention his teenage mistresses within earshot of her, wore a mask when he came by her room to not inhale the ‘bad smells’ and only visited her on her deathbed. Personally I believe this hastened her death. While he was by her side when he died, unfortunately it was too little too late.

Some new research since I wrote my book indicates Eva had a lobotomy. Lobotomies were seen as very advanced in the time, and while they were used for mental illness, they were also used to control pain too, and Eva was in severe pain at the time of her death.This is uncertain, since the evidence points only to the memoirs of a friend who wrote that Evita was ‘thin, quite and very introverted’ as she was dying. But having watched a teacher and my grandfather die, people’s personalities change while they are dying. This argument is quite weak.

Eva died on July 26th, 1952. The time of her death was announced at 8:25 PM, but many close to her say this was not the time she actually died. Some pro Eva biographers state Eva ‘chose’ this time as the hour of her death since it coincided with her marriage to Peron.

Eva’s death was very hard for me to write about since I had a beloved teacher who I was very close to die of cancer. This woman was like family to me, almost like a second mom. I have always associated cancer with my teacher’s death, and when I read about Eva dying of cancer, for some reason, I could only think of my teacher– and when I was writing about Eva’s death and illness, I could only imagine how things were for my teacher. Madonna, when playing Evita, had similar sentiments, as Madonna’s mother died of breast cancer, and when Madonna was filming Eva’s death, she wrote that she was imagining her mother’s death and her pain and that is how she cried so well at the death scene. I cried myself writing the ending of my novel, for similar reason.. For all of Eva’s faults, no one deserves to die in such terrible pain, and the psychological torment Peron put Eva through only worsened it.

Eva’s funeral was worthy of a head of state. Her body was displayed for 13 days and given a 21 gun salute. People lined up to view her for days, and some people even died in the crush to see her. Plans were made to build a monument for Eva. It was originally supposed to be of a descamisado, but Peron decided it should be of her– all the while while he was showering his teenage mistress, Nelly Rivas, with Eva’s jewels. When Peron fell from power in 1955, Eva’s body was stolen, and many bizarre legends were inspired about it. I do not wish to cover it here, since I believe Tomas Eloy Martinez covered it very well in his novel, Santa Evita. Her body was finally found in the 70s, and returned to Argentina. She now lies in the Duarte cemetary in Recoleta, a large cemetary– more of a necropolis– in Buenos Aires. Her ‘neighbors’ are the oligarchs who she so hated and so hated her. May she finally rest in peace.

Attached are several portrayals of Evita’s death. The first is the ending of the film with Madonna and is worth watching merely for the ending credits. The second is a lovely montage of the dying Evita. The third is the bizarre journey of her corpse and the last is the ending of the Argentine film Eva Peron with Esther Goris. The last video is in Spanish. I have also attached two phots of the dying Eva.

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