It’s unusual for political opponents to have affection for someone in opposition – but then American Senator John McCain is an unusual man.
After McCain announced his brain cancer diagnosis, the senior senator from Arizona received a barrage of supportive. And McCain’s daughter Meghan posted a tribute on Instagram, saying: “Cancer may afflict him in many ways: But it will not make him surrender. Nothing ever has.”
There’s no denying McCain’s fortitude. It was on full display this past week, when he flew to Washington to cast a crucial vote against his party to block the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).
Time and time again Oncologists say a positive mental stance gets a better outcome when treating cancer, but will this be enough to treat an aggressive malignancy such as glioblastoma ? Only time will tell, but millions of Americans will be willing him on.
As a cancer survivor, I know there is no evidence to support the idea that personality can influence the growth of malignant cells. There is no cancer for which attitude can halt the progression of disease. And, glioblastoma remains lethal. Even with treatment, patients have a slim chance of living long with this condition; the five-year survival rate is just over 5 percent. Both Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) and former vice president Joe Biden’s son Beau died within two years of diagnosis.
Still, as an American doctor wrote, “the words of support for McCain shouldn’t be written off as empty platitudes …. Language can be a powerful tool in medicine. As with physical remedies, there are potential harms and risks to consider, but potential upsides, too.
McCain has told his Senate colleagues that, after treatment, “I have every intention of returning here and giving many of you cause to regret all the nice things you said about me.”
And that spirit is what Oncologists like to see.