The news that Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, has an aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma was a particularly sad one, even for people who found his politics and personality aggravating. McCain is a war hero and, in a happier world, would have been president of the United States for the past eight years. He is a character like no other, and when he departs this life, the world will be the poorer for it.

Good wishes from friends and enemies alike

Naturally, the most heartfelt tribute to McCain came from his daughter Meghan, a media personality, who called her father a, “Warrior at dusk.” McCain was best known as having been a prisoner of war in the infamous Hanoi Hilton during Vietnam where he was savagely tortured for over five years.

He carried that warrior spirit into politics, often to the aggravation of enemies and friends alike.

McCain’s best tributes came from former enemies. Barack Obama, who beat him for the presidency in 2008, tweeted, “John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I have ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it is up against. Give it hell, John.” McCain got similar good wishes from Hillary Clinton, the Bush family, and President Donald Trump, all of whom which he has crossed swords with at one time or another.

Glioblastoma is almost always fatal

McCain is a tough man, but glioblastoma is a tougher disease. The five-year survival rate for the disease for someone over 55 is just four percent. This form of Brain Cancer takes the famous and the obscure alike, having killed Sen. Teddy Kennedy and Vice President Joe Biden’s Beau.

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One of the insidious characteristics of glioblastoma is that the tumors become intertwined with healthy brain tissue. Routine chemotherapy and radiation rarely get rid of the entire tumor. Treatment tends to just delay the inevitable.

A couple of new therapies give a glimmer of hope. One new device uses an alternating electrical field to disrupt cell division in the brain, significantly reducing the growth of cancer. Modern immunotherapy trains the body’s immune system to attack cancer as if it is a foreign invader. Previous applications had added years to the lives of cancer patients and have, in many cases, caused the disease to go into remission when hitherto there had been little hope. It can be expected that the full range of treatment can be brought to bear.

One cannot count out McCain’s warrior spirit. He flew missions over Vietnam and survived both the Hanoi Hilton and the swamp that is Senate politics. He did not prevail in his runs for the presidency, either in 2000 or 2008, but he made the men who won the prize work for it. And he faces what may be his final battle with the prayers and well wishes of most every American.