Are you Also Trying to Emulate John McCain’s Courage?

Are you Also Trying to Emulate John McCain’s Courage?

By Ellen Lenox Smith.

The words that were expressed by so many a few weeks ago, during the numerous events to honor Senator John McCain’s passing, are still resonating in my heart and mind. As a chronic pain patient, I believe what  sticks with me the most is the descriptions of his courage, determination, and fight to live life to the fullest despite all the significant obstacles thrown at him.

I can’t begin to imagine what it was like to be alone, tortured, isolated and yet still able to hold on to hope and dreams to get beyond this horror. And to hear that he somehow returned to civilian life and never seems to have suffered from PTSD despite all his torture, is beyond my capacity to imagine.

Ellen Lenox Smith

I will keep that reminder of his inner strength with me for the rest of my life as I struggle with the challenges of two incurable conditions. My struggles are small in comparison to what he faced but the issues are similar and they require the need to find tools to nurture courage and perseverance.

I can’t begin to imagine the pain that was inflicted on this man, day after day, month after month, year after year. Yet, he returned to the states not dwelling on the extreme pain and suffering he had experienced but instead choosing, yes choosing, to live life to the fullest and be grateful to be back and alive. He picked up the pieces and forged forward with his life back as a free person. To not be bitter, angry, and vindictive is truly awe inspiring after being treated so inhumanely. How many of us can forgive, forget or at least put aside, such horrors? What an example for us all to think about and try to emulate.  Are we strong enough to let go of something like that?

As the nation and world mourns the loss of this man, may we hold on to the the lessons he has taught us all. Life is to be lived and not wallowed in. Life is to be filled with forgiveness, acceptance and surrounding yourself with love, hope and finding purpose and meaning, no matter what has been taken away from you. For those of us living with chronic pain, may we remember this man also lived with daily pain yet somehow was able to dig deep enough to find a way to live life still serving his fellow man. He was truly amazing and will remain an inspiration to many of us.

On your bad days, try to remember what this courageous man taught us about living life to the end. May we all find more inner strength and direction despite our losses and pain we have given to live with.

May life be kind to you,

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: Ellen Lenox Smith

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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James Anderson

I too was incredibly impressed with John McCain! His decision to stay with his buddies in a Vietnam prison as well as taking the initiative to pass a low forbidding Pres Bush & Cheney from torturing prisoners was commendable.
However, there is another side of John McCain that few people are aware of. He was the recipient of the most money from the NRA of any Senator to the tune of over 7 million dollars. His support of the NRA contributed to 1.4 million Americans dying from guns since the 1960s. That was a stain on his legacy that other Republicans share.


I agree with Laurie. John McCain WAS a great man. After the horror and pain he endured being a POW he came back and continued to serve his country until he died. I’ve read that he suffered with various chronic pain issues. I’ve often wondered how he was able to be physically active and do all he did while having so much pain. There’s a good chance he too had to take opiod pain meds. I’ve also read that senators get the very best health care for life. He may have been able to receive the best pain meds as he should have for all his service to our country. Unlike many of our veterans who are suffering without them. If Senator McCain had lived, I wonder if he would have become an advocate for chronic pain patients…especially the veterans whom he cared deeply about. I guess we’ll never know but I for one believe that he would have. RIP Sen. McCain. God Bless


The one big differance is we have to couragously face our pain and some their end without pain medication by government decree. You had better bet senator Mccain was getting his medication and all he needed too!


It seems to me that there’s plenty of lip service to Jesus these days-just not a whole lot of folks, especially in Washington, D.C., emulating his commandments or lifestyle. I didn’t always agree with John McCain’s politics, but I deeply respected and admired the man. He was a true survivor, a person of principle and honor. I’m not religious, but I try to be good person. IMO, we could do with less sanctimonious talk and more compassionate action.


You are right of course, John McCain was a true hero and indeed suffered with pain his whole life. I’m a Democrat, but I truly admire him and always will. There are certain things that cross party lines and this is one of them. Does anybody know what kind of pain medication he was taking, how often, how much? I’ll bet no matter what our government shoves down our throat, no matter what DEA regulations are forced on us, etc. I can guarantee that our congressman and senators will get whatever pain medication that they require, weather it comes from drug companies, a connection to somebody who “gets things” for politicians or other resources, none of them are going to be affected no matter what happens, but John Q. Public is going to get screwed every time. Unfortunately the rules, laws and guidelines will never apply to the guys who make the rules, laws and guidelines, it’s just a sad truth. They will be on the side of whatever gets them the most votes! So me emailing my congressman and senators about the “epidemic” as I have done a dozen times has no baring on what happens to us, how much we suffer, if the accepted statistics are correct, which they’re not. So applauding Mr. McCain for his strength is ridiculous. We chronic pain patients with NO pain medication are the ones who we should be applauding. We’re the real heroes! God bless you all.


Excellent post Ellen. I very much admire his strength, courage , decency & class. It is good to be reminded…and mindful of others who sadly may be suffering more than “us” at any given moment. As we all know, when in the midst of a pain flare, it can be difficult to even try to think of emmulating John McCain. Howrver, when the pain level lowers, we can always refer back to your posting!
Thank you - Martha


This is a political hot button topic. I am sure you are aware of that. I am sorry but I feel it is very inappropriate to bring politics here.

Lori T.

Amen! John McCain was a true hero in my book. It seems he lived life to its very fullest to the very end. I have been an admirer of John for many years. I watched this man grow in both strength and wisdom as the clock ticked by. I truly think he “got it” when he began his battle with cancer. My heart broke when we lost this great man. RIP Sen. John McCain.


He was a great man. I bet he got all the pain meds he needed.


John McCain could do all that, my dear, because he didn’t do it, it was Jesus in him who did.
Jesus will do that for anyone, if you but ask.
It’s not always easy. It’s not always understandable, nice, or even seemingly tolerable.
One thing I do know; with Jesus you are never alone, you have more power to love, to accept things as they are, and to forgive everyone, everything, and especially yourself.
What about Jesus? Why doesn’t anyone ever talk about Him? He suffered too. For you. And me.
God bless you John McCain.
Thank you, Jesus!