Letter: Cancer comment a new low


This president has failed to condemn many appalling, hurtful and disgraceful things and people in his short time leading our country. But he has now set a new low for how contemptible a comment from one of his staff can be for him to still stand by it.

Early last week, Sen. John McCain voiced opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to become CIA Director, citing his convictions against torture and history as a POW in the Vietnam War, and her tenure overseeing the torture of detainees at a CIA black side in Thailand 16 years ago.

On Thursday, his aide Kelly Sadler said of Senator, former Vietnam War POW and current brain cancer patient John McCain “It doesn’t matter; he’s dying anyway.” According to New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman, some people in the meeting “gasped,” and “a few laughed.” What, one might ask, is there possibly to say about that?

The next day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered her prayers and said the comment was simply a failed joke. But for President Trump’s part, by refusing to fire Ms. Sadler and publicly condemn her remarks, he is, in my view, personally insulting every single person whose lives have been touched by this horrible disease.

His silence is in effect saying it’s okay to joke about the most painful thing anyone ever has to endure, but if there’s one thing cancer is not, it’s funny. And for what it’s worth, neither is death. But I guess you’d have to have empathy to know that.

But just so you know, Ms. Sadler, Ms. Sanders and Mr. President, those of us touched by cancer are never dying; we don’t talk about that and we don’t do it. We live, and we live as fiercely and fully and purely and as full of love as we can, and we don’t ever quit. How dare you suggest anything otherwise, but worse still, how depraved must a soul be to turn the biggest heartbreak a family will ever feel into a cheap office joke? I don’t think we even have words for that kind of sickness.

William Harper


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