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John McCain Dies of Glioblastoma at Age 81

Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain died of glioblastoma on Aug. 25. He was 81 years old.
BY Brielle Urciuoli
PUBLISHED August 26, 2018
Senator John McCain died today, Aug. 25 at 4:28 p.m., at his home in Arizona after more than a year-long fight with glioblastoma (GBM), an aggressive form of brain cancer.

His family announced on Friday, Aug. 24, 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 hours after his death.

McCain was born on Aug. 29, 1936, in the Panama Canal Zone to parents John and Roberta McCain. He entered the Naval Academy in 1954, and served in the United States Navy until 1981, where he rose to the rank of Captain. During his time in the Navy in the Vietnam War, he was held as a prisoner of war (POW) for over five years at the Hoa Lo Prison.

After leaving the Navy, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona in 1982, and, four years later, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986. Then, in April 2007, he 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.

Throughout his political career, McCain held numerous positions, including Chairman of the Senate Committees on Indian Affairs, Commerce, Science and Transportation, and most recently, Armed Services.

In November 2008, McCain lost the election to President Barack Obama, and continued in his role as a senator.

His 2017 diagnosis was not McCain’s only bout with cancer. In August 2000, he underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale Arizona – where he was also treated for GBM years later – to remove two cancerous skin lesions: one on his temple and another on his upper arm. The melanoma resected from his temple was invasive, but doctors said that that the disease did not spread.

Two years later, in February 2002, McCain had another surgery to remove a low-risk, in-situ melanoma from his nose.

More than a decade later, McCain found himself back at the Mayo Clinic, this time to remove a blood clot from his left eye – which ultimately led to his primary glioblastoma diagnosis. His date of death comes exactly nine years after Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy, who also had GBM.

"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 leader of the Cancer Moonshot Initiative, said in a tweet. "America will miss John McCain. The world will miss John McCain. And I will miss him dearly."  

GBM makes up about 15.4 percent of all primary brain tumors, and 60 to 75 percent of all astrocytomas, according to the American Brain Tumor Association.

Senator McCain is survived by his wife, Cindy, seven children and five grandchildren. He will be laid to rest at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, Maryland, according to his website.

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