SAN DIEGO. The sudden passing of Arizona Senator John McCain (R-AZ) on Saturday, August 25, came on the heels of an announcement that he was suspending further medical treatment for his battle with brain cancer. The world was shocked when, shortly following that announcement, Senator McCain passed away. Responses and condolences began to appear in social media from around the world. Here’s one example.
“I have learnt from the life of Senator McCain what distinguishes an outstanding leader: He knows who he is, what he stands for, what he believes in, where he is going, and most of all he epitomizes character-driven leadership in action. I understood from his life example that ‘Leadership is not something we stand for, rather, it is a stand for something.'”
—Unknown, Karambu, Kenya
Early prognosis and treatment for brain cancer
Early in July, 2017, Senator McCain made public news that he had been diagnosed with glioblastoma. His doctors discovered it while he was undergoing surgery for a blood clot over his left eye.
According to the American Brain Tumor Association, a glioblastoma is a highly malignant brain tumor which initially forms from astrocytes, star-shaped cells that make up of the supportive tissue of the brain. Glioblastomas account for approximately 15.4% of all brain tumors. They are most prevalent in men and those between the ages of 45 to 65. This cancer tends to reproduce quickly.
Survival rates vary, depending upon the severity of the tumor and required therapies. Typical life expectancy can range from approximately 14 months to 2 years (30%), and as much as five years or longer (10%). Treatment is generally considered to be well-tolerated by most patients. However, physical reactions may vary and may include mild to severe fatigue.
If prescribed, drug treatments may include antidepressants, anticonvulsants, brain stimulating drugs, anti-nausea drugs and/or sleeping medications.
A brief return to the U.S. Senate
After his initial series of treatments, Senator McCain returned to the U.S. Senate to cast his vote in favor of the American Health Care Act. His vote contributed to its passage.
Moreover, he also made an impassioned plea to the Senate, imploring that body to return to its constitutionally expected role as the world’s greatest deliberative body. Currently, he stated, “We are getting nothing done!”
He left the Senate again for further treatment early this year, but was unable to return due to the relentless progress of the cancer.
The Vietnam years
Early in his Naval aviation career as a jet pilot, McCain was shot down by a missile launched by hostile forces when flying a combat mission during the Vietnam War. He survived, but was seriously injured. Subsequently, he received little if any treatment during his long, 5-year incarceration as a North Vietnamese prisoner of war. Worse was yet to come.
While living in the “Hanoi Hilton,” the infamous North Vietnamese prison camp, McCain suffered multiple tortures, solitary confinement and brutal attempts to exploit his family influence. The aim was to propagandize the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong war effort while inducing McCain to turn on his country to earn early release. But McCain fully understood his captors intended this gesture as a public relations stunt. He resisted it, with predictable consequences.
McCain remained incarcerated under the most brutal conditions, honor his military oath to the best of his abilities out of respect for his fellow American POWs and those who came before him.
Thankfully, he was eventually released. Returning to the States, he assumed new Naval duties after extensive physical rehabilitation. He later retired from active service in 1981, lauded as a highly decorated war hero.
McCain’s political career
After deciding to go into politics in his native Arizona, McCain won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982. He later won election to the U.S. Senate in 1986, where he served until his death this past weekend.
Condolences pour in from family, friends, admirers
On August 26, McCain’s grieving family released a statement expressing praise for the Senator’s life and sorrow at his passing. The statement concluded on a hopeful note.
“One of John’s true honors in life was working to make our nation a safer and stronger place, and in doing so, being able to interact with people all over the country and the world.
“Although our hearts are incredibly heavy, they are also filled with love and warmth. Please know we will forever be grateful for your friendship and support.
“John would not want us to be sad. He would want us to continue his work of serving causes greater than our own self-interest. We hope you will go forward and do just that.
“Thank you for being there for John, and for our entire family. We are truly appreciative.”
“The McCain Family”
Sympathy for Senator McCain and his family
Additional expressions of sympathy continue to pour in from friends, advisors and admirers.
Sarah Crawford Stewart, Commissioner of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources in New Hampshire and former McCain Deputy 2008 State Campaign Manager, shared her memory of working with the Senator.
“For me, Senator McCain has always been both larger than life and incredibly human and accessible. While many people can point to big moments, speeches or events where John McCain did or said something profound and inspiring, I was lucky enough to have spend time with him in between those moments.”
Steve Duprey, one of McCain’s closest friends and a former campaign advisor, was planning to share McCain’s 82nd birthday with him on Tuesday. Sources report his comments on the Senator’s passing.
“John McCain has faced this grim prognosis and disease over the past year with the same way he has faced every other challenge in life-straight on, and with humor, fighting it every inch of he way.”
The legacy of John McCain lives on
The spirit of Senator John McCain will continue to flourish beyond his death as an example of American courage, service above self and political bipartisanship.
John McCain’s sense of honor as a representative of the United States of America and as a former member of the American military was beyond reproach. His incredible courage, strength of character was an example of courage beyond the call of duty for all Americans. The senator’s unrelenting support for the American people and those in his home state of Arizona was unequaled. Along with his extensive efforts to bridge international gaps, these and other qualities earned him the unique honor of lying in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Friday, August 31st. Since 1852, somewhat less than three dozen Americans of distinction have received this singular tribute.
Later, the earthly remains of John McCain will be laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where he began his long and distinguished career of military and government service decades ago.
All of us at LifeCycles extend heartfelt sympathy to Senator John McCain’s family, friends and colleagues as they grieve the loss of a man who was truly a one-of-a-kind.
— Headline image: Screen shot, YouTube tribute to Senator John McCain.