WASHINGTON: US Senator John McCain, a former prisoner of war and the maverick 2008 Republican presidential nominee, has been diagnosed with brain cancer, his office announced on Wednesday.
The 80-year-old lawmaker from Arizona underwent surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye last week and tests “revealed that a primary brain tumour known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot,” the Mayo Clinic, whose doctors performed the surgery in Phoenix, said in a statement released by McCain’s office.
“The senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options,” the statement added, noting they might include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.
Veteran of Vietnam War lauded Pakistan’s anti-terror efforts during his visit to the country early July
Glioblastoma is a particularly aggressive brain tumour affecting adults. It is of the same category of cancer that led to the death of another icon of the US Senate, Ted Kennedy, who died in 2009 at age 77.
This is not McCain’s first bout with cancer. Doctors removed several malignant melanomas on his skin in the 1990s and 2000s, including an invasive melanoma in 2000.
Experts had said this week that McCain’s latest operation suggested the possibility of a return of cancer.
McCain’s office said the senator “is in good spirits as he continues to recover at home with his family in Arizona”, and that he would consult with doctors about when he might be able to return to work in Washington.
The news triggered a flood of messages of support from across the political spectrum for McCain, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee and is in his sixth term in the upper chamber of Congress.
“Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy and their entire family,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Get well soon.”
Earlier this month, Mr McCain headed a US delegation to Pakistan and Afghanistan. During his talks with Pakistani officials, the senator lauded Pakistan’s anti-terror efforts and expressed satisfaction over the improved security situation in North Waziristan and adjoining areas.
President Trump was accused of crossing the line with his criticism of McCain shortly after the billionaire businessman announced his presidential bid in 2015, disparaging the senator as “not a war hero”.
“I like people who weren’t captured,” Trump said, in remarks that foretold the nastiness of the 2016 race.
But Trump is well aware of the importance of McCain’s vote on healthcare, with the latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act hanging by a thread.
“Plus, we need his vote,” the president said after wishing McCain well after his blood clot surgery.
“John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known,” former president Barack Obama, who defeated McCain after a hard-fought 2008 race, wrote on Twitter.
“Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell quickly issued a statement saying the entire chamber was praying for their colleague and hoped to see him back soon.
“He has never shied from a fight and I know that he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterised his life.”
Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2017