Cindy McCain reveals how her marriage to John McCain gave her courage in Stronger memoir: 'Being with him didn't hold me back'

Cindy McCain has shared profound details about her marriage to her late husband in her new book, Stronger: Courage, Hope and Humor in My Life with John McCain

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 05: Cindy McCain speaks onstage during the U.S.VETS Salute Gala on November 05, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS)
(Image credit: FilmMagic/FilmMagic for U.S.VETS/Getty)

Cindy McCain has shared how her husband John gave her a sense of courage she 'never would have felt' on her own in her new book, Stronger. 

The American businesswoman was married to the former senator and 2008 Republican presidential nominee until 2018 when he tragically lost his battle with brain cancer. She has now opened up about her perspective on their 38-year-long bond, a partnership that taught her many of the life lessons she would ultimately need to overcome the grief and solitude that followed his death. 

"Being with him didn't hold me back—it gave me flight, a courage I never would have felt on my own," she writes. 

Cindy's marriage to John was faced with hardship from the beginning. As the heiress to a successful beer company, her life plan was drastically rerouted when she fell in love with the young US Navy officer in 1979. 

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She became thrust into a realm of political affairs after their 1980 wedding in Arizona and quickly learned that not everybody would welcome her onto their turf. She specifically recalls being ostracized by Nancy Reagan, the former First Lady, who was also friends with John's ex-wife. Cindy recounts that the American icon was noticeably cold to her when they met at a White House dinner and 'had no intention of accepting me.' 

SEDONA, AZ -- MARCH 9: Presidential candidate John McCain (L) and his wife, Cindy McCain, smile for the camera at their family ranch, March 9, 2000 near Sedona, Arizona. (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

John and Cindy McCain at their Arizona family ranch in 2000 

(Image credit: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

This relatively minor incident turned out to be the start of a litany of challenges to come. She suffered a stroke which left her with memory loss in 2004, a few years after beating a severe addiction to Opioids. The substance abuse problem developed during the 1990s when John became embroiled in a savings and loan scandal, of which he was ultimately cleared. 

The couple faced heartache again in 2017, a year that permanently changed the future of their marriage. John was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer called Glioblastoma after a blood clot was discovered in his left eye. In August 2018, he stopped receiving treatment for the disease and slipped into a coma from which he never woke up. 

"I kept talking to him and bringing him outside and making sure he could be surrounded by the birds and sounds he loved — until my neighbor who is a doctor pointed out that the end was near," Cindy writes. "I suppose I knew, but when the time arrives, it is still a shock."

The experience was undeniably heartbreaking but left Cindy with increased confidence in her resistance against hardship. 

"I am in my sixties now," she writes. "My husband is gone, and my attitude toward the world has changed since I was a young college graduate unsure of my place in the world. For one, I have a new understanding of women's strength. When we stop being scared, when we care more about being powerful than being nice, there is so much we can do."

Emma Dooney
Lifestyle News Writer

Hailing from the lovely city of Dublin, Emma mainly covers the Royal Family and the entertainment world, as well as the occasional health and wellness feature. Always up for a good conversation, she has a passion for interviewing everyone from A-list celebrities to the local GP - or just about anyone who will chat to her, really.

Emma holds an MA in International Journalism from City, University of London, and a BA in English Literature from Trinity College Dublin.