JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

On John McCain and “beating” cancer

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In case you missed the horrible news, John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

The Arizona senator has had a long and distinguished career in politics, and while I’ve often disagreed with his positions, I’ve generally found him to be a man of conviction and principles. Or, put different, if you’re a close pal of Joe Biden, you must be doing something right.

Anyhow, the responses from the political world were pretty boilerplate, thought not in a bad way. Lots of love and respect and admiration. One, however, grabbed my attention …

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To be clear, this is not a political statement. I’d be making this point whether the Vice President were an arch conservative or a far-left liberal. But … man, I hate sentiments like the one written by Pence. I’m certain the words come from a kind place, but this whole personification of cancer that we do is simply maddening.

Cancer is not a person, and it’s not something to be opposed like Conor McGregor stepping into the ring with Floyd Mayweather. It doesn’t pick “the wrong guy” or “the right guy.” Fighters can overcome it, fighters can succumb to it. Non-fighters can overcome it, non-fighters can succumb to it. The Trump Administration likes to frame things as “win” and “lose,” but cancer doesn’t subscribe to such base actions. You listen to your doctors, you do what they tell you, you try and keep the faith and maintain optimism—and you hope it works for the best.

I don’t resent the Vice President praying. I don’t even resent the vice president’s Tweet.

I just think it’s a simple outlook on a far more complicated tragedy.