Sen. John McCain Diagnosed with Aggressive Form of Brain Cancer
Our thoughts and prayers are with the McCain family as the reality of the recent brain cancer diagnosis for Senator John McCain sets in. During a procedure to remove a blood clot, surgeons discovered a glioblastoma tumor which is a very aggressive type of brain cancer.
The Senator’s daughter, Meghan McCain wrote on behalf of the family, in part –
“The news of my father’s illness has affected every one of us in the McCain family. My grandmother, mother, brothers, sister, and I have all endured the shock of the news, and now live with the anxiety of what comes next. It is an experience familiar to us, given my father’s previous battle with cancer – and it is familiar to the countless American families whose loved ones are also stricken inevitably with age. If we could ask anything of anyone now, it would be the prayers of those of you who understand this all too well. We would be so grateful for them.”
Senator John McCain is a true American hero, having served in the Vietnam War. The bomber McCain was piloting was hit with a surface to air missile on Oct. 26, 1967. He managed to eject from the plane but not without incident. Both arms and his right leg were broken and he was knocked unconscious by the force of the ejection blast. He regained consciousness only to realize he was sinking in a lake from the weight of his equipment. John struggled to reach the surface for a breathe before managing to activate his life preserver with his teeth. Upon reaching the surface a second time, he was “rescued” by North Vietnamese soldiers and this marked the beginning of more than five years as a prisoner of war at the infamous Hanoi Hilton.
John McCain was the son of a high ranking Navy Admiral and as a result was offered early release, which he refused. This began a long period of frequent torture as his captors tried to break his spirit. They were not successful. Upon the war’s end, John McCain was released from captivity on March 14, 1973.
John McCain became Senator John McCain and has been serving his country in that capacity since 1987. To this day, the Senator is incapable of raising either arm above his shoulders as a result of his initial injuries, numerous beatings while in captivity and lack of adequate medical care.
There is no doubt that the Senator from Arizona has seen tough times and is a survivor. Family members will also need to be just as resilient in the coming weeks and months to help care for the family patriarch.
McCain’s particular form of brain cancer has been described as “very aggressive” with an average prognosis of 14 months to 3 years life expectancy depending on time of discovery and beginning of treatment.
In the meantime, physical symptoms include but are not limited to fatigue, headache, seizures, nausea and vomiting, sensory and motor loss, hearing and vision loss along with general pain.
Caregivers Need Not Neglect Themselves
A February 2008 Oxford Academic Neuro-Oncology study entitled “Caring for the brain tumor patient: Family caregiver burdens and unmet needs,” found that family caregivers provided –
“…. extraordinary uncompensated care involving significant amounts of time and energy for months or years and requiring the performance of tasks that were often physically, emotionally, socially, or financially demanding. They were constantly challenged to solve problems and make decisions as care needs changed, yet felt untrained and unprepared as they struggled to adjust to new roles and responsibilities.”
Caring for a loved one can be a struggle for family members who, according to the American Brain Tumor Association, experience a gamut of emotions ranging from anger and guilt, grief and feelings of loss while sometimes experiencing a mix of emotions from joy and sadness, strength and anxiety all at once. The association stresses the benefits of peer-to-peer support as a coping mechanism.
Like in any caregiver situation, those who are caring for a loved one with brain cancer should not neglect themselves. Especially in the case of brain cancer when the caregiving can be more demanding.
If you are in need of caregiving services in the greater Houston area, or are just looking for answers you may have about the scope of caregiver services offered, do not hesitate to give Assisting Hands a call at (713) 230-8632