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Patients and Caregiver Stories

McCain is considered a warrior. But is that the right metaphor for his struggle with cancer?

The metaphor was inevitable.

Moments after the news of Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor reached the internet, he was being pinned with the badge of the cancer warrior.

Tweets from others, like @zhiemie506, invoked the war metaphor and the military record of the former Navy fighter pilot and prisoner of war more directly: “John McCain is as real as rain. He has a true adversary in Glio, but remember, they tried to kill him in ‘Nam and failed. He’s a warrior!”

And while arguably no one in the U.S. is more well-positioned to wear the fierce cancer fighter label than McCain, some patients and survivors say it exemplifies how even well-intentioned observers can rely on stock phrases that can sometimes do more harm than good.

Others say this warrior mentality helped them persevere through grueling treatments and stretches of self-doubt that might have otherwise stripped them of the will to live.

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