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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

"I'll be back" says McCain following brain cancer diagnosis

Donald Trump joined other politicians in sending messages of support but the former presidential candidate fired a broadside at the US president

Senator John McCain wrote a message of resilience on Twitter after news broke that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer
Senator John McCain wrote a message of resilience on Twitter after news broke that he had been diagnosed with brain cancer

“I’ll be back” are the resilient words of former presidential candidate John McCain after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, paid tribute to Senator McCain, saying that his "courage will help him overcome this difficulty. We offer our prayers for a fast recovery to dear friend of the UAE."

US President Donald Trump, who previously claimed the senator was “not a war hero” because he had been captured by the Vietnamese in 1967, tweeted a short message of support: “Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon.”

The attempt at rapprochement by the president appears to have cut little mustard with the irascible McCain, who criticised Mr Trump's policy in Syria in his first statement since his diagnosis was revealed.

"Making any concession to Russia, absent a broader strategy for Syria, is irresponsible and short-sighted," McCain said.

“The administration has yet to articulate its vision for Syria beyond the defeat of ISIL, let alone a comprehensive approach to the Middle East,” he added

The 80-year-old senator for Arizona who was the party’s candidate for the presidency in 2008 had been treated for a blood clot on his left eye, but his condition worsened.

The Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix said tests had revealed “a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma” associated with the clot that was removed last week.

“The senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team,” said the hospital in a statement. “Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation.”

The hospital said that “McCain’s doctors say he is recovering from his surgery ‘amazingly well’ and his underlying health is excellent.”

His daughter, Meghan McCain, has issued a heart-warming tribute to her father: “It won't surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father.

"He is the toughest person I know. The cruelest enemy could not break him. The aggressions of political life could not bend him. So he is meeting this challenge as he has every other. Cancer may afflict him in many ways: But it will not make him surrender. Nothing ever has.”

She went on to add, “”He is a warrior at dusk. One of the greatest Americans of our age. And the worthy heir to his father's and grandfather's name.

"But to me he is something more. He is my strength. My example. My refuge. My confidante. My teacher. My rock. My hero — My dad.”

Speaking to South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, his close friend, he said “Yeah, I'm going to have to stay here a little bit longer, take some treatments. I'll be back”.

Mr McCain added, “'I've been through worse”.

Mr McCain had several malignant melanomas removed in the 1990s and 2000s. His office said last night that he “is in good spirits as he continues to recover at home with his family in Arizona”.

Glioblastoma is the most common type of cancerous brain tumour. Around 2,200 cases are diagnosed each year in England. In America, the figure is believed around 12,400.

As well as Mr Trump, figures from across the political spectrum rushed to offer their support.

Barack Obama, who defeated McCain in 2008 said: “John is an American hero and one of the bravest fighters I've ever known. Cancer doesn't know what it's up against. Give it hell, John.”

The Republicans’ leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said: “John McCain is a hero to our Conference and a hero to our country. 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. The entire senate family’s prayers are with John, Cindy and his family, his staff, and the people of Arizona he represents so well.

“We all look forward to seeing this American hero again soon.”

Mr McCain served during the Vietnam war as a fighter pilot. He was shot down during a bombing raid on the North Vietnamese capital Hanoi in October 1967 and spent the next six years in a prisoner of war camp, where he underwent horrific torture at the hands of his captors.

Following his release, he became a member of the House of Representatives for two terms from 1982, before being first elected senator for Arizona in 1986, winning re-election five times.

Mr McCain was due to play a pivotal role in a key vote on repealing Mr Obama’s Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA) before his surgery and subsequent diagnosis. His treatmentment led to a delay in the vote, during which a sufficient number of Republican senators came forward to express their opposition to the bill and forced the majority leader, Mr McConnell, to shelve it and instead try to push a vote on a clean repeal of the ACA.

Mr McCain has been a strong voice in the Senate for close US ties with Gulf Arab countries. Before his health issues surfaced, he visited the UAE in early July and held talks with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Their discussions at Al Shati Palace included bilateral relations and regional efforts to halt the funding of terrorism, the state news agency Wam reported.