Cindy McCain breaks silence on migraines

Philadelphia - September 10, 2009

McCain spoke at the conference of the American Headache Society at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Action News sat down with her earlier in the day as she described how migraines affect her.

"It feels like someone stuck an ax in my head," she said.

McCain said she's been suffering from migraines for 15 years.

And she's not alone. More than 30-million Americans suffer from migraines. For many, the symptoms can be debilitating. McCain said while on the campaign trail last fall she tried to make all events, but there were times she couldn't.

"Sometimes I go blind from it, sometimes I don't and I'm lucky," she said, adding, "Sometimes it'll last 24 hours, sometimes it'll last 10 days."

Many doctors say there hasn't been many advances in medicine to help people suffering. Dr. David Dodick, president elect of the American Headache Society and professor of neurology at the Mayo Clinic blames that on a lack of funding.

"Right now we receive one-fiftyth of one-percent of the NIH's budget- that's grossly disproportionate to the amount of suffering that goes on," he said.

And McCain is trying to change that by raising awareness and respect and understanding for migraines. "This is a legitimate problem and a legitimate disabilty for us," she said.

McCain also plans to lobby Congress for more research money. She hopes it will help find better treatments for everyone suffering including those in the military. It's estimated 36% of Iraq war veterans return home with migraines.

"Our men and women deserve better than that for what they've done," McCain said.

For patients suffering or women who can't find a doctor to help them, McCain says look for a neurologist in your area who treats migraines. For people without access to a doctor, she recommends going to your local health department and keep pushing until you find someone who will take your symptoms seriously.

For more on the latest research announced at the American Headache Society conference, visit: www.americanheadachesociety.org

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