Senator John McCain Opens Up About Seeing Daughter Meghan Get Married as He Battles Cancer

Meghan McCain married Ben Domenech on Nov. 21

Senator John McCain says seeing his daughter Meghan McCain marry Ben Domenech on Nov. 21 at the family’s ranch in Cornville, Arizona, was a dream come true.

“The thing in life you want more than anything else is for your kids to be happy,” the Senator tells PEOPLE exclusively in its new issue, on stands Friday. “And I’m confident that she will be. It was really a wonderful day.”

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Sierra Blanco Photography

But the wedding, which the Senator says was “a celebration of life and a chance to revisit and celebrate the past,” came at a tough time for the family.

In July, the former Republican presidential nominee, 81, was diagnosed with stage 4 glioblastoma, a rare and highly aggressive form of brain cancer that has a median survival rate of 14 months. (Only five to 10 percent of patients make it past five years.)

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Sierra Blanco Photography

In the wake of the diagnosis, his daughter, 33, and Domenech, 35, made the decision to get engaged and quickly plan a wedding.

“This brought into focus how important it was for Meghan to have her dad see her get married, and to have that happen while he was still fully there and fully able to participate,” says Domenech, the founder of the website The Federalist. “This was something that she needed.”

Sierra Blanco Photography

The diagnosis had hit Meghan particularly hard.

“The last four months have been the most difficult of my life, but I have a partner who has so been there for me,” the conservative View co-host says. “You never know what’s going to happen. You never know what’s going to come at you. The hardest part is, he is such an amazing father. Our bond is something I have always valued. Now even more so.”

As the family looks ahead to uncertain times, the newlyweds will postpone their honeymoon till next year. And though McCain says his cancer treatment “is still a fight,” he says he feels at peace.

  • For more on Meghan and Ben’s wedding, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday

“I have been so fortunate to have the life that I have had, full of time and adventure and excitement,” says the Senator, who will continue his work in Washington, D.C., and forge ahead with a planned 2018 memoir.

“I’ve been a small bit of American history, so I think if there’s something on my tombstone, it’ll be ‘He served his country,’ and hopefully you add one word, ‘honorably,’ ” he says. “I’ve made a lot of mistakes. I’ve lost races. I’ve caved in to what seems to be the easy way out and wasn’t. There’s nothing to be sorry for. I have nothing but gratitude for a life fully lived, and you can’t ask for anything more than that. And you can’t deny that I am the luckiest person that you will ever talk to.”

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