Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain has been diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye, dealing the latest challenge to a sturdy Republican maverick who has survived melanoma, nearly two dozen bombing missions in Vietnam and torture during his 5 1/2 years in a prisoner of war camp.
“He is the toughest person I know,” his daughter Meghan McCain said in a statement released last night. “The cruelest enemy could not break him. The aggressions of political life could not bend him. So he is meeting this challenge as he has every other. Cancer may afflict him in many ways: But it will not make him surrender. Nothing ever has.
“He is a warrior at dusk. One of the greatest Americans of our age,” she said.
It was the same type of brain cancer that both late former Bay State U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy and late former Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, the son of ex-Vice President Joe Biden, were diagnosed with.
In a tweet last night, Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, said her “thoughts and prayers are with Teddy’s and my friend @SenJohnMcCain tonight and with @cindymccain and their family. God bless.”
McCain, 80, underwent the procedure to remove the blood clot Friday, and subsequent tissue pathology showed a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma, the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix said.
“The Senator’s doctors say he is recovering from his surgery ‘amazingly well’ and his underlying health is excellent,” the hospital said.
McCain and his family are now reviewing next steps, which could include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation, the hospital said.
“He is in good spirits as he continues to recover at home with his family in Arizona,” McCain’s office said in a statement. “He is grateful to the doctors and staff at Mayo Clinic for their outstanding care, and is confident that any future treatment will be effective. Further consultations with Senator McCain’s Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate.”
McCain was first elected to the Senate in 1986 and ran unsuccessfully for the White House twice. He rode the “Straight Talk Express” in his longshot bid in the 2000 GOP primary, becoming the Republican nominee in 2008 before eventually losing to Democrat Barack Obama.
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“John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known,” Obama tweeted last night. “Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”
Though McCain and President Trump had their differences during the 2016 presidential campaign — including the Manhattan billionaire denying that McCain is a war hero because he was captured — the president wished him well in a White House statement.
“Senator John McCain has always been a fighter,” Trump said. “Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon.”
With words such as “tough,” “fighter” and “hero,” statements wishing the senator well poured in from across the political aisle.
“John McCain is as tough as they come,” tweeted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Thinking of John, Cindy, their wonderful children, & their whole family tonight.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who had to delay action on the Obamacare overhaul because of McCain’s surgery, issued a statement, saying, “He has never shied from a fight and I know that he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life. We all looks forward to seeing this American hero again soon.”
McCain has experienced a lifetime of physical challenges. His bomber was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and he spent 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war, during which he was tortured and kept in solitary confinement. He refused the offer of an early release from the POW camp after the North Vietnamese learned his father was a U.S. admiral, denying them what would have been a propaganda victory. Instead, McCain said he’d only agree to a release if every other prisoner captured before him was also let go.
McCain was also diagnosed with melanoma in 2000.
“Thinking of Sen McCain and his family tonight,” tweeted Bay State U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, an Iraq War veteran. “Was so honored to visit the infamous ‘Hanoi Hilton’ with him a few weeks ago. #AmericanHero.”
“Very sad to hear about the diagnosis of an American hero & a true patriot @SenJohnMcCain,” tweeted Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a survivor of Burkitt’s lymphoma. “Sending prayers from Boston to him & his family.”
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