The elephant in the living room

This morning I woke up thinking about the issue that nobody wants to bring up under normal circumstances, much less during a presidential election: cancer.


I asked myself: simply based on health status, would I be running for President right now? Well, after all, my cancer is inactive, so far, at least. Hmmm. So here are my morning ruminations…mainly but not exclusively from a health perspective (when I use italics, I am pretending to be…someone else). Just for the sake of argument, of course.


Let’s say that between 1993 and 2002 I had four cases of malignant melanoma. The one removed in 2000 was a particularly nasty one.


Let’s say that, in April 2008, my doctors had found and removed six adenomas–growths with the potential to turn malignant–from my large intestine.


Let’s say that they had also removed a basal cell carcinoma (considered to be highly curable) from one of my legs, in May 2008.


Okay, my doctors have pronounced me “cancer-free” and fit to run for President. Off I go.


But wait a sec…why in the world would I even remotely desire to run for President??? The stress of a prolonged presidential campaign could cause a recurrence of the cancer. I certainly do not want put my family through hell again, do I?


Out of curiosity, this morning I did a quick search on a possible connection between stress and malignant melanoma. Well, quelle surprise, I found quite a number of studies on this topic. The following, e.g., shows that stress inhibitors hold back the invasion of malignant melanoma cells: Another one on stress and malignant melanoma: And here (on page 212, see also the bit on “anger,” to which Sen. McCain is no stranger):


Of course, I am not saying that cancer patients should crawl into a hole and isolate themselves from the rest of the world. Hah. That would be sooo silly. But why make matters potentially worse? I don’t get it. Not in this case, certainly. But let’s go on, for the sake of argument. 


Let’s say that I am elected President of the United States and that my cancer rears its ugly head again, due to the overwhelming stress of a prolonged presidential campaign. To take the argument a step beyond the obvious consequences for me and my family, what would happen to my beloved country? Shudder…


As a cancer patient, I have a lot of empathy for Sen. McCain. In fact, I would have loved to hear him speak openly about his melanoma during the campaign. But he didn’t, or if he did, I must’ve missed it.


Indeed, from what I saw while I was in the States, and from what I continue to see over here in Italy (except when I watch Fox News), his campaign has been based more on shockingly reprehensible, angry and hypocritical mudslinging than on addressing the issues that concern us all. There are heaps of mudslinging examples from which to choose…but this morning I received a private note from a blog reader supporting Sen. McCain’s most recent attack on Sen. Obama. I have already responded privately, but now I will do so publicly.


The attack concerned Sen. Obama’s acquaintance with a highly esteemed Middle Eastern scholar, Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi. His impressive credentials are available online, I won’t bother repeating them here.


But I do have an interesting bit of news: since 1993, Sen. McCain has been chairman of the International Republican Institute (IRI). Tax returns show that in 1998 IRI gave $ 448,873 to the Center for Palestinian Research and Studies (CPRS), an organization co-founded by Prof. Khalidi. I kid you not. The 1998 IRS form is available online, just click on this link, go to p. 14 and look for “CPRS”:  


My question is: why, uhmmm, has Prof. Khalidi become an undesirable connection all of a sudden? The answer is obvious. This is merely another GOP desperate last-minute attempt to distract and confuse U.S. voters.


The worst case scenario is that Sen. McCain and his script writers are suffering from a severe case of memory loss. The best (?) is that they are not able to do even a minimally acceptable amount of research.


Either way, I am not at all impressed. I hope U.S. voters won’t be, either.


  1. I didn’t realize how extensive his cancer experience had been. In addition to his age, I think his health poses quite a problem.

  2. Yes, I makes the probability of Palin succeeding as president a very real threat! I can’t begin to describe how scary that is to me.

  3. well Margaret, you kow I was in my car going to the swimming pool this morning and I wondered why in hell at 72, having had cancer McCain (right spelling or is that for the Mc Cain fries???) he wants to run for President. I guess, power is the answer.

    as for Palin, ( or is it Pain?) I must tell you that two Montreal radio hosts who call themselves the Avenging something… have managed to call Palin last week, they got through pretenting it was President Sarkozy calling, and one of them kept her on the phone for 7 or 9 minutes, saying he wanted to go hunting with her, that killing must be fun, and a host of other stupidities. She never caught on – they finally told her she had been pranked…. the whole interview must be somewhere online.

    hope you are doing well –


  4. We are on the verge of a very historic day! Our first president of color, and it is about time! Just so sad that Obama’s grandmother passed away just before his moment of triumph, due to cancer. Made me cry. I just saw an interview with a very old African-American woman, who also started crying when she said, “Well, I guess God kept me on this earth for a reason all these years after all…” So touching!

    So proud to be an American today!

  5. Well, it seems like all of you ” Nobama kool aid” drinkers are going to get your wish. I hope you are all very happy with yourselves. This is the end of the USA as we know it. I can’t believe all of the venom I’ve read over the last few weeks. You are all guilty of allowing the liberal media to skew your perception of our great leaders and our great country. We will no longer be free Americans but will now become a socialist country!

    What a pity when someone attacks a wonderful woman like Gov. Palin saying she willfully destroys the earth of all it’s creatures and then supports a man like Obama who supports the slaughter of 1 million babies a year…. It’s PRO ABORTION, not pro choice…. Call it what it is! Choice is too pretty a word for killing a baby….There, I said it!…..

    Now, we are going to see the real person behind Obama’s carefully constructed facade! You will now see what real evil is. You are all so misguided.

    Yes Margaret, my tone this time isn’t respectful. I know this is your blog, but you and your followers haven’t been respectful to MY country. In fact, you all go out of your way to disrespect it.

    I’ll no longer be checking in…….couldn’t stand the gloating. It’s a pity because I really did enjoy the dialogue about MM.

    Enjoy your new “World President”. When the people of the US get out of their trance, they will realize their mistake. By then it will be too late.

    God have mercy on us!

  6. woo hoooooo. My new favorite drink in koolaid (blended with curcumin??) My 25 year old son voted for the first time. He text messaged me from a quiet church, 800 miles away, about a month ago; suddenly realizing how important his vote was and wanted to know at that very moment what he had to do to get registered. I do not have unrealistic expectations of what can be accomplished. I only wish for unity and pride of working together. I hope for the venom and victim role strategies that so successfully divided our country to lessen and that past lost relationships return when hearts begin to heal. Thank you Margaret for your eternal patience and heart and love and strength and stamina and your fight and research for our battle for our health. I feel healthy tonight and am going to go fix some koolaid right now.

  7. When I first heard Obama speak a few years back, I said to my husband, “That man is going to be president some day, and I’ll cross party lines to vote for him.” Thank Heavens for someone who believes that religion should not rule our country and dictate what a woman can do with her body. Thank Heavens for a man who is not quickly angered. Thank Heavens for a man who is young and healthy. Thank Heavens for someone who wants to enact a “Fair Pay Act” to ensure women get equal pay for equal work. Thank Heavens for someone who opposes privatization of Social Security which would leave all of us baby boomers without income and destitute in our old age. Thank Heavens for someone who supports federally funded embryonic stem cell research without reservation. Maybe it will save my life some day. Thank Heavens for a man who is highly educated at more than just a military academy. He was Magna Cum Laude at Harvard, no less. Thank Heavens for a man who has enough intellectual savvy that he is unafraid of challenging diplomacy, instead of acting like a hardhead.

    I also think it’s very much a plus that he’s half white and half black. What a good way to bind the nation together!

  8. This morning, I was simply flabbergasted when I logged onto my blog and read a very angry and hateful comment left by a McCain supporter. I decided to delete it. I will NOT tolerate disrespect, and this blog reader went a bit too far. If you disagree with me or my politics or whatnot, that’s fine, but please, no vicious attacks.

    This is a time to come together, not to write hateful divisive invectives.

    Had Sen. McCain won this election, I would NOT have left a similar message on a Republican blog. Heck, I would NOT have written and published an angry post on my own blog. Where does all this anger come from? I am baffled. Totally. But this is not a time to be baffled. This is a time to celebrate.

    Today I am a very proud and happy U.S. citizen. And…

    Yes, we can.


  9. I re-approved Val’s comment, after pondering the matter. Early this morning, sipping my lovely cappuccino, I was in celebration happy mode and in no…mode to read nasty stuff.

    However, I would like to note that the abortion comment is beyond contempt…as though women enjoy having abortions. Hello??? But, instead of giving my very long list of valid reasons for being pro-choice (and it is pro-choice, not pro-abortion), I prefer to address the issue as follows:

    P.S. what’s wrong with drinking kool-aid, except that it’s undoubtedly chock full of sugar? I don’t get that part of the comment. Perhaps I have been living in Italy for too long…hmmm, in fact, I don’t remember ever having had any kool-aid…

    U.S. citizen (it’s my country, too…)

  10. Hooray for the USA.

    At last you have elected an intelligent, charismatic, leader the whole World will respect. You might have found another JFK.

    It’s a tribute to your system of government that this could happen and I hope that it will not end at the point of some moron’s gun like it did last time. If my worst fears are realised, the whole World will ask if democracy is worth fighting for.

    On the terrorism front, the US vote has surely done more damage to Al-Qaeda that all it’s military might has. Hopefully the World will be a safer place now. The West is not such an obvious target for hatred.

    And on the domestic front, Obama can speak more effectively to the minorities who voted for him in their millions. I have already heard him criticise black fathers for not spending enough time with their children. He can speak the unspeakable and people will listen because of his background.

    Finally, no one has yet mentioned it but I have to say I was very impressed by John McCain’s speech accepting the result and pledging to work for the betterment of America. I think we probably saw the real McCain here and the way he sought to stiffle the “boo boys” was very impressive. Good man.

    Good luck America. There are very difficult times ahead but the omens are better than they have been for some time.


    PS For the people who think that this result “surely destroy the Republic our Founding Fathers established for us”, you might like to read this article about Thomas Jefferson:

  11. PS. I found this on the BBC website today. It seems particularly apt for some:
    Being a burglar with a cough and praying to God with a grudge in the heart are not productive. ETHIOPIAN PROVERB

  12. Yes, hooray for the Usa!
    You’ve elected a great leader! Here, we’ve only been able to elect Mr. Berlusconi, sigh!

    I was very impressed too by McCain’s speech. What a lesson of democracy.

    (European citizen)

  13. I only heard snippets of McCain’s speech on Fox News and was curious to hear or read the whole thing even before reading Paul’s comment, so I just looked it up. Yes indeed, I agree, it was a good, conciliatory speech, a call for unity in these difficult times. I particularly appreciated the part where he offered his sympathies to President-elect Obama for the recent death of his grandmother, as well as the following words:

    “These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

    I urge all Americans … I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

    Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans.”

    This is the kind of attitude that we need right now.


  14. Hi Margaret,
    I too think that this election heralds a new era for America, it has been needing a fresh image for so long and finally something fundamental and worthy has happened to this great nation. Perhaps it is high time for a dose of socialism. i don`t support Sarkozy`s politics here in France but he too represents change and that is what is needed.

  15. I think we’re in store for much needed change. If I have to pay higher taxes, I’m glad to do it (although I don’t make enough to have to worry about it). We need better education, better health care and so much more.

    My own feeling is that we’re all going to be ok. If you’re afraid, don’t worry. Everyone made it through FDR, JFK, LBJ, JC and WJC. We’re all still here, and, in most cases, a little better off in many ways because of those guys.

  16. Well, I’ve kept my promise not to make any further comments before the election, but I’d like to comment now after the election.

    My first comment is to dear Val. I feel your pain. I know from whence you speak. We are like minded, however, I do not feel your anger. The election process worked and we now have a new president, not the one of my choice, but nonetheless my president and I will do all I can to respect and support him. For my own well being, and the well being of our great country, I must be optimistic. I appreciate his speech last night, although we all know what a great speech maker he is. I pray he was sincere. He certainly will not be able to deliver all that was promised, neither candidate could.

    I too appreciate John McCain’s speech last night. A good man indeed. I have great respect for Sarah Palin and see her with different eyes than many in this blog. I hope to follow their good examples by being the best American I can be. I love my country and will do all that one little person can do to make it better.

    To my new sparring friend Paul, we are polar opposites in our thinking processes! That’s ok! Best wishes to you! (JFK…good grief!!) : )

    I don’t know what the Kool-aid reference is about either. Maybe it’s a local thing. Health and happiness to all, Donna

  17. I was too young to vote! I was a child when he was assassinated. It was only after I became an adult that I learned of him and his presidency. I don’t want to say anything negative about him in this column because he still has a daughter living and I respect her, in spite of her political views!

  18. Sorry Donna. Since you are supposed to get more right wing as you get older, I felt certain you were light years older than me :-).
    I was 12 when JFK was shot and, even at that age, I remember where I was and what I was doing.
    So, what about Clinton then? And Reagan? And Nixon?

  19. Oh, I remember well where I was and what I was doing. I was in the 7th grade. It appears we may be about the same age…hmmm…I’m not light years older, just light years smarter! : )
    I’m sure I will regret answering your questions but I will. No, yes, and yes. No regrets either. OK, sock it to me…I can take it! : )

  20. I see a pattern emerging here Nora.

    I think you might be suffering from “Chronic Republicanism” :-).
    My guess is that things have gotten so bad that you might be tempted to vote for Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy if they were on the Republican ticket.
    You need to be very careful in future because, as Churchill once said, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind …..”. In fact, Churchill “crossed the floor” on several occasions and stood as Conservative, Liberal, and Independant candidates at different times in his political career.

    I am proud to tell you that I have voted both for and against Margaret Thatcher (Conservative) and for and against Tony Blair (Labour) – depending on whether I thought they were the best person for the job at the time.

    I honestly believe (and I’m being serious now) that democracy will only be kept alive by so-called “floating voters” and the people who are determined to vote for the best person for the job, regardless of race, colour, creed, sex, or political party. Without them, nothing would change so there would be no point in voting.

    So, I want you to promise me one thing: If Obama is still with us in 4 years time, and he’s done a good job, you will try really hard to put a tick in the Democrat box. I know it’s going to be tough to break the habits of a lifetime but you’ll find it really exhilarating.
    In return, I promise you that if he hasn’t done a good job, I will be shouting just as loud as you for a change.

    Best wishes,

  21. I couldn’t agree more! It’s just that I have certain values that are more inclined to the Republican party. I would be most happy to vote Democratic if we believed in the same things. I have nothing personal against Obama, we just have different ideals. I admire him for his strong family values and desire to make our country a better place, we agree on that. I think we all want the same things, getting there is where we differ. I’m sure we agree on other things but its late in the work day and my poor brain is fried! I heard on the news last night that he considers Ronald Reagan a role model for him. I like hearing that. I consider him the best president in my life time. I really wish him well, for all our sakes. I’ve enjoyed our conversations today and know that you have only our best interst at heart too. Take care, Donna

  22. You take care too Donna. Sorry I got your name wrong in the last post. I was writing to someone else at the same time.

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