Cindy McCain Takes Migraines to the Disability Forefront

Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain relaxes in her home in Phoenix, AZ. Image via Neurology Now May/June 2010 (Vol. 6, Iss. 3, p. 17)

Over the course of the past year, Cindy McCain, wife of Sen. John McCain, has spoken out, raised awareness, and even championed for a cure (a cure she promised would happen in her lifetime at the 14 Congress of the International Headache Society last August) for migraines. Through the course of speaking publicly about her migraines, Mrs. McCain has candidly referred to the condition as a “disability.”

What some media sources have called her “coming out”, Mrs. McCain’s public speaking on her migraine condition signified a monumental step for the poised Senator’s wife, who hadn’t even told her husband about her condition until 10 years ago.

Mrs. McCain’s secretive tendencies over her condition were spurned in large part to a borrage of doctors failing to take her severe headaches seriously, often labeling her a neurotic, over-stressed, and worthy of a simple aspirin remedy. As Mrs. McCain weighs in in an interview with Neurology Now (May/June 2010, Vol. 6, Iss. 3), “If I — as a prominent person — was being brushed off by doctors, what about the mother of four in a small rural community whose migraines are never taken seriously?”

During her public speaking, Mrs. McCain has spoken openly about remembering her grandmother suffering from “headaches,” a fact she and her doctor believe is an indicator of the genetic component of her migraines. McCain’s grandmother died before McCain was officially diagnosed with migraines. In fact, Mrs. McCain wasn’t diagnosed until she was 40, a decade after her migraines had actually developed, following her hysterectomy. Studies have shown that hormonal changes can bring about on migraines. McCain own migraines are accompanied by excruciating pain, auras, ringing in her ears, nausea, and even temporary loss of eye sight. All these symptons have been known to be linked to stroke in women, who are three times more likely to have them than men.

The financial implications of the costs of treatment for migraines cannot be ignored as its staggering expenses equally competes with the financial costs to that of some widely recognized disabilities. Mrs. McCain campaigned with these statistics at Capital hill last year, citing that migraine sufferers spent $20 billion dollars a year in lost work time and medical expenses; this compared to the $13 million dollars spent by Congress to research the “disease.” The World Health Organization also estimates that migraines cause more lost years of healthly life in the United States annually than multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, ovarian cancer, and tuberculosis combines. These kinds of staggering estimates means that research dollars spent on the aforementioned disorders is more than 117 times greater than that spent on migraine research (Childers, p 18)

McCain stresses that while treatment for migraines has advanced significantly over the past ten years, the bigger battle to receving appropriate treament is proper diagnosis.

You can read more on migraines and McCain’s efforts for public awareness on the condition in her interview with Neurology Now, either via this article page (a printable version of the article is also available via this page), or in its printed format in Neurology Now, May/June 2010 Vol. 6 Iss. 3 (pg. 16-19).

For more information on migraines, what they are, how this affects disabilty rights, and where to turn to for help, visit M.A.G.N.U.M. or simply type in your web browser.

Editors Note:
According to Dr. David, Dodick, M.D., professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, A.Z., in an interview in Neurology Now (May/June 2010), a migraine is a headache usually described as “throbbing” or “pulsing”. It most commonly occurs on one side of the head and is felt to be coming from behind the eye., temple, or ear. Migraines can last anywhere from four to 72 hours. Some of the most common symptoms associates with migraines include sensitivity to light (photophobia) and/or sound (phonophobia), nausea, and vomiting.

For more information on the condition, or to find a neurologist or specialist skilled in diagnosis and management of headache disorders, contact the “American Headache Society ( or 856-423-0043) or the American Council on Headache Education ( You can also search online with the American Academy of Neurology’s “Find a Neurologist” tool at

2 comments so far

  1. Osupa Davis on

    I would like to contact Mrs. McCain to discuss some of the same issues and become a spokesperson in New York. I am so frustrasted and I would like to know if she has found any items that work.
    Please feel free to e-mail me.

    • DSS of GCCC on

      The article discussed in the post written in Neurology Now (links to the article and the journals website can be found within the post) does discuss some of the things that Mrs. McCain personally does to help with her own migraines. She also gives advice on how to find a specialist who practices in migraine science. We recommend reading the full article for this information and have provided the links needed to navigate there. As for contacting Mrs. McCain, we commend you in your ambitions and wish you the best. We personally believe that the best advocates you can have are yourself. We suggest contacting Neurology Now to see if they have any suggestions on how to get a hold of Mrs. McCain or any of the affiliations she may have in her fight for Migraine awareness. Good Luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: