John McCain dies – a Thank You from a Chronic Pain Leader

John McCain dies – a Thank You from a Chronic Pain Leader

By Ed Coghlan.

Long-time US Senator John McCain passed away Saturday night. The Vietnam-era hero and 2008 GOP Presidential candidate was a polarizing figure, but was an honest, direct and principled man who was not afraid to tell you what he thought was right even when it was not the right partisan thing to do which is why he is such an important figure in our recent history.

Before he died but while he was plainly at the end of his life, National Pain Reporter columnist Ellen Lenox Smith had a message for Senator McCain, which is best captured in her letter to him.

Dear Senator McCain,

As a fellow citizen also coping with a life with pain, I just wanted to share with you that I understand and applaud your decision for the direction you chose for the closure of your life. I don’t think there is a person out there that can’t see the fight you participated in to keep life alive, productive and filled with compassion towards others. Imagine what a world this would be if all, living in pain or not, took your lead and cared and acted on helping others and always working to make a difference? But that long hard fight is now beyond hope and I want you †o know that I respect you and your family’s decision to stop treatment.

I have been on the edge of death numerous times in life living with two incurable conditions.  I am not sure healthy people could appreciate the freeing feeling that is brought on by making such a decision. When health issues seem to take over your life, there isn’t much left that feels is in your control. It can be frightening and overwhelming, to say the least. But to make this choice about your health is something no one can take that away from you.

I want to let you know, this is not about politics but about common humanity and compassion. You have set a living example to those of us that will be left behind to keep living life to the fullest, keep caring and acting towards kindness towards others, to not give up but to find a way to continue to have passion and purpose not matter what we are expected to cope with. And, you are demonstrating to us that when that fight is toward closure of one’s life, it is ok to let go and have that one last decision as to how you write the end of your story.

May your last moments here be as pain free as possible and surrounded by your loving family and friends. And may you know in your heart that you will be remembered by many and thanked by many for the example you have provided for us on of how to live life no matter what suffering and hardships are thrown your way.

Thank you for all you have done,

Ellen Lenox Smith

Author of: It Hurts Like Hell!: I Live With Pain– And Have a Good Life, Anyway, and My Life as a Service Dog!

The information in this column should not be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only and represents the author’s opinions alone. It does not inherently express or reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report.

Ellen Lenox Smith and her husband Stuart live in Rhode Island. They are co-directors for medical cannabis advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation, along with Ellen on the board and they both also serve as board members for the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition. For more information about medical cannabis visit their website.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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Thank You too a truly great hero he will be sadly missed we need more people like him in this world and may God comfort his family in this sad time one of the truly best Republicans too have ever served us


I wrote my senator johnny hot start, No reply. No comment except I bet he got anything he needed out of the medicine cabinet.

When I said all Republicans and Democrats were.puppets that made me want to puke I had forgotten about John McCain. He was probably the last honest politician. So now I can say that. I wish he had been our President. We need more like him. God Bless John McCain

Lynne mathis

Thank you for your post to John McCain I don’t share his political party affiliation but honor and service know no party REST IN PEACE
and thank you for your service God bless your family What a shame the chump in the white house has none


I am an intractable pain patient with adhesive arachnoiditis, I am 54 years old and retired, and a Canadian citizen. I spend 5 months each year at our Las Vegas vacation home and I have seen first hand my friends being denied opioid medications by their doctors, mostly due to ignorance by politicians. In Canada I am able to obtain opioid medications because the politicians in Canada have not gone completely crazy like they have in the USA. I feel deep empathy for people who cannot obtain proper pain medication. It is a despicable policy and one that someday will be looked upon with widespread disgust at the ignorance and cruelty of American politicians.

Audrey Lynn

Well said Hayden.

William Dorn

.I wrote to him about speaking out for chronic pain patients. Like all the others I wrote no reply.


Well said

Louis Ogden

I’m not conservative nor am I a Republican but I will always remember what he said to a woman at a campaign stop when she made disparaging comments about then President Obama. I cannot remember his exact words but he said he was a good American and he would not drag his name in the mud. He then moved on leaving behind a woman who looked chagrined. He was a man of ethics!




I can understand why the need, if you choose to manage pain involved with a cancer at the end of your life. What I do not understand is why, continuous, lifetime pain management issues with opiate medication is being “phased out” as a very effective pain management medication for the many people that live with pain caused by disease, injury and even certain types of surgery such as spine surgery that is known……to cause pain even if the surgery is a “success”. The pain left to deal with, for life, constantly is not considered by the “experts” to be relevant enough or bad enough to warrant treatment, therapy, medication even if it is opiate based or even a synthetic opiate. We can not effectively manage legitimate, real pain with an effective dosage of opiate medication unless it is an end of life pain management therapy? The thought that ALL people with pain management issues, even those of us that have used opiate medication successfully ,beneficially for years and decades because that it is…….. the last, effective pain management medication for a great many patients that may even be young in years but are now UNABLE to effectively manage pain, continuous pain until……end of life is not the most effective way to “help” those with substance addictions. My own Father, refused to use “narcotic” medication as he called it. He opted for less than successful pain management therapy, specifically, therapy that incorporated electric stimulus for pain management. He opted not to use alcohol which many of my friends have NEVER used for pain management but now have no choice short of alcohol use being that it is “legal” to purchase and use……..for no reason at all if we “choose” to do so. My Father ultimately chose suicide over trying to manage his “chronic” pain after a few short years of pain enduring with everything medical science could throw at him short of the “narcotic” medicine he chose not to use. He did not have any type cancer or life ending disease when he ended his life He could not find an effective means to manage his continuous, developed, lifetime pain for the time he had left.The pain management community has been devastated for those of us that need opiate medication in order to not only effectively manage the pain but, it is also possible to remain 100 percent cognitive while managing otherwise unbearable for life……..continuous pain. A persons choice to use an effective dosage of opiate medication is no longer acceptable.


Thank you Ellen…..well said….

Maureen M.

Thank you for sharing this, Ed. Ellen’s letter is beautiful, encouraging and well written. I too greatly admired Senator McCain. He was a true American who lived an incredible and the xperienced life, who has suffered with pain for many years since his prisoner of war days. God bless his family.
May he rest in peace. Maureen M.

Well said Ellen, Ed… no matter which side of the political spectrum you may be on, Senator McCain always stood true to his convictions, to his enduring spirit and good character. He represented what made us all feel proud to be Americans, never wavering to the political tides and currents, a true ROCK the nation has now sadly lost. Rest-in-Peace John, we honor your service, your humanity and now your memory.