WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., is cancer free one year after going through treatment for breast cancer.
The senator learned that cancer doesn’t have a party affiliation. Fighting the disease means accepting well wishes from fellow Democrats, Republicans and even her critics.
“Even some of my haters on Twitter took time out of calling me names and said really positive things and that they were praying for me,” said McCaskill.
The senator says she never realized just how many women fight breast cancer, until she had to face the challenge herself.
“Now everywhere I go someone kind of gives me the secret handshake and hugs me. And I feel like I have a whole new family of these amazing women who have traveled the same path that I have,” said McCaskill.
About one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. McCaskill says early detection was key to her successful treatment.
The senator is still taking medication. It comes with some side effects that she joked about, “great news for an older woman to hear that it’s going to make it hard for me to lose weight. But that’s a small price to pay when it comes to being cancer free,” she said.
Congress continues to debate health care reform and McCaskill is using her firsthand experience as motivation to fight for other patients.
“We need to be very careful about gutting preventative services, very careful about how we deal with preexisting conditions,” she said.
And even for a powerful United States senator, cancer has a way of putting things in perspective.
“Way more worried about my nine grandchildren than I am the fight of the day in Washington. It doesn’t mean I’m not still focused on my job but it does reorder your priorities,” said McCaskill.
The senator calls her experience fighting breast cancer one of the most uplifting moments in her career, and she’s going to keep at it. McCaskill says she plans to run for re-election in 2018.