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Dr. Joseph Zabramski, a neurosurgeon at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, talks about Sen. John McCain’s cancer. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
Doctor: McCain has ‘aggressive’ cancer | 1:28
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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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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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Sen. John McCain, after being hospitalized last week, has returned to Arizona for rehabilitation, his office said late Sunday, capping a weekend of speculation about his health and intentions to vote on a sweeping tax-code overhaul in Congress.
News reports and a tweet from his daughter, Meghan McCain, indicated he would stay in Arizona through the holidays, likely meaning he would not be present for the vote expected this week.
McCain, 81 and suffering from a deadly form of brain cancer, had been hospitalized since Wednesday at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., for what his office described as “normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy.”
His office’s release included a statement from Dr. Mark Gilbert, chief of neuro-oncology at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, saying McCain “responded well to treatment he received at Walter Reed Medical Center for a viral infection and continues to improve,” Gilbert said.
“An evaluation of his underlying cancer shows he is responding positively to ongoing treatment,” Gilbert said.
McCain’s office also confirmed that McCain has returned to Arizona and “will undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.”
“He is grateful for the excellent care he continues to receive, and appreciates the outpouring of support from people all over the country,” the statement said. “He looks forward to returning to Washington in January.”
CBS News reported earlier Sunday that McCain would miss the tax-reform vote.
Republicans, who control the chamber with a narrow 52-member majority plus Vice President Mike Pence as tiebreaker, appear to have enough votes to pass the package without McCain.
President Donald Trump later told reporters he had been in touch with Cindy McCain, the senator’s wife, and that McCain would return to Washington if Senate Republicans need his vote on the tax bill.
“They’ve headed back,” Trump told reporters Sunday after returning to the White House from Camp David. “But I understand he’ll come if we ever needed his vote, which hopefully we won’t. But the word is John will come back if we need his vote. It’s too bad. He’s going through a very tough time, there’s no question about it. But he will come back if we need his vote.”
McCain is battling glioblastoma, an aggressive brain-cancer that was diagnosed in July.
But his daughter, television commentator Meghan McCain, tweeted Sunday afternoon that her father will be in Arizona for Christmas.
“Thank you to everyone for their kind words. My father is doing well and we are all looking forward to spending Christmas together in Arizona,” she said in a Twitter message that also encouraged people to donate to cancer research.
McCain’s office did not specify where the senator would stay. The family has two residences in Arizona.
The McCains are devoted to their cabin in Cornville, deep in a valley between Sedona and Cottonwood, and have posted photos of the senator spending time outdoors there since his cancer diagnosis.
At Up The Creek wine bar in Cornville, another family crowded around the McCains’ usual table Sunday night.
“I don’t know when he’s coming back,” said Up The Creek co-owner Mario Aguilar-Aello. “Probably sometime soon.”
News of the senator’s possible return had worked its way around the town. Regulars who had once spotted him at the bistro, or in line at the Cottonwood Starbucks, said they hadn’t seen the usual markers of McCain’s arrival. A senator was on his way, or maybe he wasn’t.
“He’s going through a lot of trauma right now,” Cornville resident Brett Farmer said in the Grasshopper Grill.
Ben Domenech, the six-term senator’s new son-in-law and Meghan McCain’s husband, said in an interview Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that John McCain was “in good spirits.”
“I’m happy to say that he’s doing well. The truth is that as anyone knows whose family has battled cancer or any significant disease that oftentimes there are side effects of treatment that you have,” he said. “The senator has been through a round of chemo and he was hospitalized this week at Walter Reed.”
McCain’s chemotherapy and radiation treatment over the past several months have taken a visible physical toll: He has been photographed on Capitol Hill in a wheelchair and wearing a bulky medical boot after he tore his Achilles tendon.
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, has said his doctors gave him “a very poor prognosis.”
The House of Representatives is expected to vote on the final version of the tax-reform legislation on Tuesday. Soon after, the Senate is expected to take up the measure.
McCain supported the earlier Senate-passed tax bill before House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement on reconciling the differences in their competing versions.
Reporter Alden Woods contributed to this story.
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