John McCain, the six-term Arizona senator and the Republican presidential nominee in 2008, has chosen to discontinue medical treatment for his brain cancer, his family said Friday.
In a statement, the family said McCain has surpassed expectations for survival, but “the progress of the disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict.” The family added, “With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment.”
The senator, who would be 82 next week, has been away from the Capitol since December.
McCain, a former Navy pilot, was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years. He was elected to Congress in the early 1980s and was elected to the Senate in 1986, replacing Barry Goldwater who retired. McCain gained a reputation as a lawmaker who was willing to stick to his convictions rather than go along with party leaders. It is a streak that draws a mix of respect and ire.
He has been a frequent target of criticism from President Donald Trump, especially for his vote against a Republican replacement for “Obamacare.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Twitter that he was “very sad to hear this morning’s update” from McCain’s family.
“We are so fortunate to call him our friend and colleague. John, Cindy, and the entire McCain family are in our prayers at this incredibly difficult hour,” McConnell said.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called McCain “an American hero” who always put his country before himself.
Ducey said a “spirt of service and civility” guided McCain’s life, standing as a model for Americans regardless of political affiliation.
McCain’s wife, Cindy, tweeted: “I love my husband with all of my heart. God bless everyone who has cared for my husband along this journey.”
McCain underwent surgery in July 2017 to remove a blood clot in his brain after being diagnosed with an aggressive tumor called a glioblastoma. It’s the same type of tumor that killed Sen. Edward M. Kennedy at age 77 in 2009.
McCain rebounded quickly, however, returning to Washington and entering the Senate in late July to a standing ovation from his colleagues. In a dramatic turn, he later cast a deciding vote against the Republican health care bill, earning the wrath of Trump, who frequently cites McCain’s vote at campaign events.
McCain’s condition worsened last fall and he has been in Arizona since December.