Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, 70, recently announced that she would not seek re-election to a 10th term in November.
Citing her health as one of the main reasons for her departure from politics, McCarthy vowed to stay involved in issues that are near and dear to her heart — gun control, health and education.
The Herald spoke with McCarthy by phone about issues ranging from her time in Washington, D.C., her recent health crisis (she was diagnosed with lung cancer in June), her family, and her plans for the future.
Herald: How is your health now? This must be foremost on your mind.
Carolyn McCarthy: The treatments are over! I finished them in early October and I was ready to go, but the doctor said the bad news is that now, everything is going to hit you — the chemo, the radiation — it’s exhausting. They took great care of me at Sloan-Kettering. Their main concern was that I couldn’t swallow. I had a tube feeder and I lost my voice for a while — my strong, confident nurse/politician voice. We won’t know until March when I go for a CAT scan if it’s still just in the lungs.
H: Were you a smoker?
CM: I am an ex-smoker. I tried to quit several times, but when something would happen, I went back to the cigarette. I’m not big on raising taxes, but on cigarettes … if it can stop young people …
I’d also like to sit down with the House doctor, talk about getting CAT scans for everyone over the age of 60. Early diagnosis is so important.
H: Do you think you’ve accomplished enough in Congress in the last 18 years regarding the gun control issue?
CM: For so many years, I was the only voice out there. When Gabby Gifford got shot, and then Virginia Tech, and then Sandy Hook happened, [it] just tore my heart out. But there were a lot of voices that came out of that. I knew it was important, and I would refer media to the others, those other than myself. It’s time for new people and new faces. But I made a crack in the wall.
H: Would you have done anything differently?
CM: I don’t think I could have been any more aggressive. I fought hard. We need to bring down the debt, and help other countries like Israel, so things won’t escalate … but you have to have a government that functions to be able to do that.