In a statement released on Twitter, the McCain family explained that the 81-year-old politician — who was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer with a median survival rate of just 15 months, in July 2017 — made the decision.
“Last summer, Senator John McCain shared with Americans the news our family already knew: he had been diagnosed with an aggressive glioblastoma, and the prognosis was serious,” the statement said. “In the year since, John has surpassed expectations for his survival. But the progress of disease and the inexorable advance of age render their verdict. With his usual strength of will, he has now chosen to discontinue medical treatment.”
“Our family is immensely grateful for the support and kindness of all his caregivers over the last year, and for the continuing outpouring of concern and affection from John’s many friends and associated, and the many thousands of people who are keeping him in their prayers,” the statement continued. “God bless and thank you all.”
Daughter Meghan McCain, 33, tweeted the statement, adding, “My family is deeply appreciative of all the love and generosity you have shown us during this past year. Thank you for all your continued support and prayers. We could not have made it this far without you – you’ve given us strength to carry on.”
Added wife Cindy McCain, 64, on Twitter: “I love my husband with all of my heart. God bless everyone who has cared for my husband along this journey.”
Sen. McCain learned about his diagnoses with brain cancer after undergoing a surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye last summer.
The 2008 Republican presidential nominee’s office and the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix, Arizona, released a statement about the diagnosis, saying, “Subsequent tissue pathology revealed that a primary brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was associated with a blood clot. Scanning done since the procedure (a minimally invasive craniotomy with an eyebrow incision) shows that the tissue of concern was completely resected by imaging criteria.”
Previously, Sen. McCain had survived three bouts with melanoma, an aggressive skin cancer that can spread to the brain and cause bleeding. He was diagnosed with invasive melanoma in 2000, and has been regularly screened by his doctors. Two other malignant melanomas had also been removed: on his left shoulder in 1993 and his left nasal wall in 2002. All were declared Stage 0.
In December, Sen. McCain was hospitalized to treat side effects related to his cancer therapy. Then in April, Sen. McCain underwent surgery and was hospitalized at Arizona’s Mayo Clinic for an intestinal infection.
The six-term Arizona Republican senator, who has served Arizona in Congress since 1982, has since called his prognosis “very poor.” But he’s remained strong, something daughter Meghan — currently a cohost on The View — praised back in June.
“He is not scared, but I’m scared every day,” she told PEOPLE. “He is very courageous and incredibly physically resilient.”
Sen. McCain’s health battle did not at first stop his political work in Washington, D.C. — where he serves as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Lately, McCain has been spending time on the deck at his Arizona ranch, visiting with a constant flow of friends — including former Vice President Joe Biden in May. (Biden’s son Beau died of glioblastoma, the same rare brain cancer McCain had, in May 2015.)