Sen. John McCain gave new insight into his grim struggle with an aggressive form of brain cancer in an interview that aired Sunday on CBS’s 60 Minutes.
“They said that it’s very serious, that the prognosis is very, very serious,” the 81-year-old McCain, R-Ariz., said during the segment titled “The Fighter.”
“Some say 3 percent, some say 14 percent. You know, it’s a very poor prognosis,” he continued. “So I just said, ‘I understand. Now we’re gonna do what we can, get the best doctors we can find and do the best we can.’
“And, at the same time, celebrate, with gratitude, a life well-lived.”
McCain, a former naval aviator who was shot down over North Vietnam in 1967 and held as a prisoner of war until 1973, also revealed that he wants his memorial service held at his alma mater in Annapolis, Md.
“I want, when I leave, that the ceremony is at the Naval Academy,” he said. “And we just have a couple of people that stand up and say, ‘This guy, he served his country.'”
He returned to Capitol Hill after Labor Day and is keeping his regular Senate work schedule as he continues chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
“I am more energetic, and more engaged, as a result of this because I know that I’ve got to do everything I can to serve this country while I can,” said McCain, the chairman of the influential Senate Armed Services Committee and the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.
Since the diagnosis, McCain on July 28 voted to kill the GOP’s “skinny repeal” legislation, part of Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” On Friday, McCain announced that he also intends to vote against the latest GOP health-care bill authored by Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.
The votes have put further strain on his already notoriously bad relationship with President Donald Trump, who has made undoing “Obamacare” a top priority.
In the TV interview, McCain said that Trump still has never apologized to him for ridiculing in 2015 McCain’s P.O.W. experience. But McCain said he has moved on and that none of his votes are intended to get back at Trump for the insult.
McCain added that he’d be happy to have a conversation with Trump but acknowledged that they each had a “different upbringing” and “different life experiences.”
McCain’s father and grandfather were U.S. Navy admirals.
“He is in the business of making money and he has been successful both on television as well as Miss America and others,” McCain said of Trump. “I was raised in a military family. I was raised in the concept and belief that duty, honor, country is the lodestar for the behavior that we have to exhibit every single day.”
McCain also detailed to 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl how his doctors informed him of the life-threatening health issue, which was discovered during a routine health exam.
It was a Friday, and McCain was about two-thirds of the way to his cabin near Sedona when he got a call from his doctor saying he had to turn around and come back for the surgery.
“And I said, ‘Hey, today is Friday. I’ll just come in on Monday.’ And she said, ‘No, you have to come now. It’s very serious,'” McCain recalled.
McCain also suggested that his doctors initially danced around the diagnosis.
“I kept saying to them, ‘Tell it to me straight,'” he said. “… I said, ‘I can take it. Just tell me.'”
McCain was asked whether he has felt “panic” since the diagnosis. He said he had not.
“I have feelings, sometimes of fear, of what happens,” McCain said. “But as soon as I get that, I say, ‘Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You’ve been around a long time, old man. You’ve had a great life. You’ve had a great experience.'”
Dan Nowicki is a national political reporter. Follow him on Twitter, @dannowicki.
Barrow neurosurgeon talks about McCain’s cancer | 1:17
Dr. Joseph Zabramski, a neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, talks about Sen. John McCain’s cancer. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
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Doctor: McCain has ‘aggressive’ cancer | 1:28
A cancer expert says Sen. John McCain has an “aggressive” form of brain cancer that will be difficult to treat. Dr. David Reardon at Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute says glioblastoma is the most common type of brain cancer in adults. (July 20)
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Sen. Graham on McCain: ‘He’s coming back’ | 1:23
Sen. Lindsey Graham says Sen. John McCain is “ready to come back,” despite being diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor. (July 20)
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Breaking down John McCain’s glioblastoma diagnosis | 0:51
Doctors diagnosed Senator John McCain with a glioblastoma, an aggressive brain tumor that can be difficult to treat.
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Sen. John McCain has brain tumor | 16:26
Sen. John McCain revealed that he has a primary brain tumor, with doctors describing the tumor as a glioblastoma.
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What is glioblastoma? Unpacking Sen. McCain’s cancer diagnosis | 12:22
Republic reporters explain what glioblastoma is and what it means for Sen. John McCain.
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Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer | 0:33
Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer according to a statement from his office.
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Barrow neurosurgeon talks about McCain’s cancer
Doctor: McCain has ‘aggressive’ cancer
Sen. Graham on McCain: ‘He’s coming back’
Breaking down John McCain’s glioblastoma diagnosis
Sen. John McCain has brain tumor
What is glioblastoma? Unpacking Sen. McCain’s cancer diagnosis
Sen. John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer
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