By CARL HULSE
WASHINGTON – Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee known for his independent streak over more than three decades in the Senate, has been diagnosed with brain cancer, his office disclosed Wednesday evening in a statement from the Mayo Clinic.
The statement said the medical condition was discovered after McCain, 80, a Republican from Arizona who was just re-elected to a sixth term in November, underwent a procedure to remove a blood clot above his left eye at the Mayo hospital in Phoenix.
“Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with the blood clot,” said the statement. “The senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team. Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.”
The illness of McCain, a former Navy pilot who was captured and held as a prisoner during the Vietnam War, had implications this week for the health care debate. His absence caused Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the majority leader, to postpone a floor fight until McCain returned to Washington.
The diagnosis shook the Senate, where McCain is a very popular figure despite his occasionally heated disputes with colleagues in both parties.
McConnell called McCain a hero to both Senate Republicans and the nation at large.
“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,” McConnell said Wednesday night. “We all look forward to seeing this American hero again soon.”
John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I've ever known. Cancer doesn't know what it's up against. Give it hell, John.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 20, 2017
The disclosure Wednesday suggested that McCain’s condition was much more serious than initially believed, although the statement said that “he is recovering from his surgery ‘amazingly well’ and his underlying health is excellent.”
McCain is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a leading proponent of using aggressive military force overseas. The Senate has been preparing to take up the annual Pentagon policy measure produced by the committee.
He is probably best known for his past efforts to champion changes in campaign financing laws over the fierce objections of some his Republican colleagues, particularly McConnell.
McCain’s office said that he “appreciates the outpouring of support he has received over the last few days. He is in good spirits as he continues to recover at home with his family in Arizona. 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.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, his junior Republican colleague from Arizona, acknowledged the seriousness of McCain’s diagnosis in a still hopeful tweet.
“Tough diagnosis, but even tougher man,” Flake tweeted.