Oprah: Were you ever afraid during the attack?
Rudy: I wasn't, but when I look back on it, I realize I should have been. That day, a reporter asked me, "Is it true that you narrowly escaped death?" I said, "No, that's exaggerating." When I got home that night and I saw how the building came down, I said, "Yeah, I did."
Oprah: Since the attack, have you felt anxiety that the other shoe is about to drop?
Rudy: I don't have that fear any more than I had it the day before this happened. The risks in life are pretty much what they have always been.
Oprah: Do you feel that way because you've already gone through the experience of having cancer?
Rudy: Maybe. I don't know that I would have dealt with this as well if I hadn't had to confront my own mortality. If you have a disease you can cure, thank God. And if you don't, there's nothing you can do about it. You have to conduct your life, take reasonable precautions, and not shut yourself down.
Oprah: Did facing your mortality change the way you live?
Rudy: I think it did. It has given me less fear.
Oprah: A lot of people are really facing their fear of death for the first time.
Rudy: I've had to deal with my father's death and the deaths of others close to me. But I can see why this time is particularly hard for young people who haven't lost anyone. When I was 16, 17, 18, I was absolutely convinced I was immortal. Now all of a sudden lots of these kids are faced with the reality that they're not in control of life.
Oprah: And that they won't live forever.
Rudy: I'm an eternal optimist, so I think going through this is going to make them tougher. They'll be able to face the rest of their lives better—but it's going to take a while to get there, and it won't be true for everyone.
Oprah: How do we get to the point of finding real healing?
Rudy: There's no way to force it. It's not like there's one process by which people feel they've moved beyond this—it might happen faster for some than for others.
Oprah: Overnight, you seemed to become instantly popular as a politician. Did September 11 completely change the trajectory of your life?
Rudy: It did—but I'm not exactly sure how yet.
We Hear You!