John McCain Dies of Glioblastoma at Age 81

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Front view of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, USA from in front of the entrance staircase under bright blue sky

Senator and former presidential candidate John Sidney McCain III died today, August 25, 2018. He was 81 years old.

McCain died at his home in Cornville, Arizona after more than a year-long fight with glioblastoma (GBM), a complex and aggressive form of brain cancer. There are few effective treatment options for patients. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the disease makes up about 15.4% of all primary brain tumors, and 60% to 75% of all astrocytomas.

“This news of McCain’s death is a painful reminder that brain cancer is non-partisan and unsparing across the conventional lines that unfortunately divide us in this nation,” said David Arons, Chief Executive Officer of the National Brain Tumor Society in Boston, MA.

“It can inflict men, women, children of any race, socioeconomic background, or party affiliation. It has taken from us Beau Biden; the “Lion of the Senate,” Democrat Edward “Ted” Kennedy; and now the Repubican “Maverick,” John McCain.

On his Own Terms
On Friday, his family announced that McCain would stop treatment for the disease.

“My heart is broken. I am so lucky to have lived the adventure of loving this incredible man for 38 years. He passed the way he lived, on his own terms, surrounded by the people he loved, in the place he loved best,” McCain’s wife, Cindy, tweeted just hours after his death.

Shortly after her father’s death, Meghan McCain posted a tribute on Twitter saying she was with him “at his end as he was with me at my beginning.”

“My father is gone, and I miss him as only an adoring daughter can,” Meghan McCain added.

Vietnam
McCain was born on August. 29, 1936, in the U.S. Controlled Panama Canal Zone. His parents were John and Roberta McCain. In 1954 McCain entered the Naval Academy. He served in the United States Navy, where he rose to the rank of Captain, until 1981. It was during his time in the Navy that he was held by the Vietcong as a prisoner of war for over five years at the Hỏa Lò Prison, in Hanoi, Vietnam. As the son of a four-star admiral, the 31-year-old Navy pilot, lying in agony in a Hanoi prison, refused an easy out from his prison, enduring torture rather than abandoning friends.

Political career
In 1982, after leaving the Navy, McCain was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona. Four years later, in 1986, he was elected to the U.S. Senate.

In April 2007, McCain announced that he would run as the Republican candidate for President of the United States, choosing Governor Sarah Palin as his vice-presidential running mate. In November 2008, McCain lost the election in a crushing defeat to President Barack Obama. After his defeat he continued in his role as a senator.

Diagnosis: Glioblastoma
In 2017 McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma. This was, however, not McCain’s only bout with cancer. In August 2000, doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, removed cancerous skin lesions from his temple and another his upper arm. Although the melanoma resected from his temple was invasive, his doctors noted that that the disease had not metastasized. Two years later, in February 2002, McCain had another surgery to remove a low-risk, in-situ melanoma from his nose.

Photo 1.0: Senator John McCain addresses the audience at the 129th National Guard Association of the United States General Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 25, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill) (Released)

More than a decade later, in 2017, McCain found himself again in the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale. Initially his doctors thought that they were to remove a blood clot which had formed above his left eye. This surgery, however, led to McCain’s primary glioblastoma diagnosis.

One of his last acts as a “Maverick” politician, already suffering from the aggressive brain cancer that would later claim his life, was to stretch out his war-injured right arm, thumb down, to kill his party’s last-ditch attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. While he was not in favor of Obamacare, McCain felt that the Republican bill would explode the deficit. He would later explain that his deciding vote not to repeal the Democratic healthcare law was simply “on principle.”

The vote would be his final act of defiance against his own party.

John was a friend…
Earlier today, following the announcement of McCain’s death, former President Barack Obama released a statement, noting that that he and McCain, irregardless of their political differences, had shared a “fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.”

“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did,” Obama noted in his statement. “But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt,” he concluded.

“John was many things – a proud graduate of the Naval Academy, a Senate colleague, a political opponent. But to me, more than anything, John was a friend,” Joe Biden, former vice president and initiator of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative said.

“America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly,” Biden added.

Edward “Ted” Kennedy
McCain’s death comes exactly nine years after Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, who served in the United States Senate representing Massachusetts until his death in 2009, died of the same disease.

According the latest information on his website, McCain will be laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland.

The editorial and publishing team of Onco’Zine and The Onco’Zine Brief on PRX, are profoundly saddened to learn of the senator’s passing, and our thoughts immediately go out to his family, friends, staff, colleagues and loved ones in this difficult time.

Our heartfelt condolences are extended especially to his wife, Cindy, seven children, mother, and siblings.

We wish them comfort in their time of grieving.


Last Editorial Review: August 25, 2018

Featured Image:Front view of the Capitol Building in Washington DC, USA from in front of the entrance staircase under bright blue sky. Courtesy: © 2010 – 2018 Fotolia. Used with permission. Photo 1.0: Senator John McCain addresses the audience at the 129th National Guard Association of the United States General Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Aug. 25, 2007. Courtesy: © 2010 – 2018 U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill (Released). Used with permission.

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