An American War Hero Faces A New Enemy

A Personal Perspective

American hero and U.S. Sen. John McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer this week and embedded in this stunning, sad news is an inordinate amount of information that could be beneficial to the rest of us.

The Arizona senator, who twice ran for president, has long been a respected voice in Washington—and the news of his potentially terminal diagnosis is making us realize how fragile life really is.

Family and colleagues of Sen. McCain, a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, are comforted by the thought that he has always been a fighter. They expect that tough attitude will see him through this toughest of battles as well.

What they seem to be forgetting is that when he was held prisoner in Vietnam for five years, he was in his 20s. Now, he is in his 80s and is facing an even more mortal enemy. Ironically, McCain has the same type of brain cancer as did the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy: glioblastoma. It is now being speculated that McCain’s susceptibility to a certain form of skin cancer (melanoma) may have been a contributing factor to the type of brain tumor he now has.

This brings to mind that we all need to take precaution when spending extended time in the sun. It’s not just white and other fair-skinned people who can get skin cancer, which can then lead to other types of cancers. African Americans are blessed with more melanin than others, but skin is skin, so we should be sensible about how much unprotected sun exposure we enjoy.

With global warming, the sun’s ray are said to now have more penetrating powers than it did in previous times. You want to avoid cancer of any kind. But mercifully, we can help protect ourselves from skin cancer if we use sun block and are, generally, smart about the sun.

Similar to his colleagues, friends and family are saying that McCain, a former marine, is in for the fight of his 80 years of life. It will be up to him, his family and his doctors to collectively decide how they will tackle this ultimate enemy.

Ironically, as a U.S. senator, McCain has outstanding health coverage.

This illness has been diagnosed at a time when President Donald Trump and most of the Republican senators are trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). McCain and his colleagues don’t need public healthcare because we, the taxpayers, are paying for their wonderful, private healthcare.

Many of them—McCain included—are so wealthy that even if they lost their health insurance tomorrow, they would still be able to afford the best care possible. What the president and the Republicans need to do is strengthen Obamacare, not “repeal and replace” it with something that will leave millions of people uninsured.

Donald Trump’s outsized ego is being indulged by those who are trying to destroy Obamacare. Trump’s problem with the program isn’t really about healthcare or about the cost. His M.O. is really about getting rid of Obama’s signature legislation and his name attached to it.

The take-away from the McCain news is that we have to keep up with our checkups, enjoy the sun in moderation and fight like heck against the new Mitch McConnell-authored health plan.

We wish Sen. McCain only the best as he fights against this deadly form of cancer.

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