Meghan McCain marked the third anniversary of the passing of her father, Sen. John McCain, on social media Wednesday.
“3 years. You left a void in this world by leaving it that will never be filled. And when you left, so much light went with you,” McCain wrote on Twitter.Read More
That last line is a mock-Latin aphorism that means: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”.
McCain also included a photo of her father that appeared to be taken at the family’s home in Sedona, Arizona.
3 years. You left a void in this world by leaving it that will never be filled. And when you left, so much light went with you. I think about you every single day. I miss everything. I love you forever, Dad. illegitimi non carborundum. pic.twitter.com/9oXOoQVIgx
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) August 25, 2021
On July 14, 2017, Sen. McCain underwent surgery at the Mayo Clinic to remove a blood clot above his eye. During the course of that procedure, doctors noticed a growth that was later identified as a glioblastoma.
McCain, who was 80 at the time, had surgery to remove the tumor. He then underwent chemotherapy and radiation.
As a melanoma survivor and former prisoner of war, McCain had a number of underlying conditions. He also developed diverticulitis that required surgery one month after he was diagnosed with his tumor.
He put on a brave face until the end, but on August 25, 2018 he lost his battle, 13 months after his diagnosis.
McCain struggled with the loss of her father and made no secret of the grief she was experiencing at the time.
In addition to posts on social media, she also spoke at length about the experience of losing her father when she returned to her hosting duties on The View after his death.
In that episode, McCain quite literally laughed and cried about her loss.
“Abby [Huntsman], when my dad was first diagnosed I got wasted with you,” said an amused McCain.
“And I drank so much. (Huntsman) was heavily pregnant and she watched me down Jack Daniels after Jack Daniels and then I threw up and her sister held my hair back.”
Then came the tears as she paid tribute to her father.
“My father’s farewell address, he said that we’re Americans and we can never surrender,” said McCain.
“We can never surrender to what is happening in the country right now. I understand how divided and how scared a lot of people are and it looks like the fabric of democracy is fraying. We do not surrender.”
She then announced: “I’m not surrendering. You don’t do it either so you have to join me in not surrendering. Okay. Because I’m still here fighting and I want all of you to fight with me.”
McCain then took some time to acknowledge two men who were crucial in getting her back on her feet after the tragedy.
“And I have one more final thing and then I will get off my soap box. God is real. I wouldn’t be here without my faith, but I also wouldn’t be here without Joe Biden and Joe Lieberman,” said McCain.
Coping with Loss of a Parent to Cancer
Losing a parent to cancer, as Meghan McCain has, is a difficult and grief-filled experience. While the grief journey may feel overwhelming at times, know that there are resources that can support you along the way. Many people find support groups and therapy to be helpful resources in processing the pain of grief.
Camila Legaspi was in high school when she lost her mother to breast cancer. Legaspi credits therapy with “saving” her during that emotionally difficult time in her life. She says in an earlier interview, “Therapy saved my life. I was dealing with some really intense anxiety and depression at that point. It just changed my life, because I was so drained by all the negativity that was going on.”
“Going to a therapist helped me realize that there was still so much out there for me, that I still had my family, that I still had my siblings,” says Legaspi. “The reality is, is when you lose someone, it’s really, really, really hard. And it’s totally OK to talk to someone. And I’m so happy that I talked to my therapist. Keep your chin up, and it’s going to be OK.”
Understanding the Standard of Care for GBM
The standard of care treatment for a GBM (glioblastoma multiforme) patient usually consists of a surgical resection followed by radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
A neurosurgeon will try to take out as much of the tumor as possible without causing any damage to critical brain structures. Depending on where the patient’s tumor is located, sometimes the surgeon can remove the entire tumor, while in other situations the surgeon is only able to remove a portion of the tumor. The goal, in both cases, is to get as much as possible in the safest way. After surgery, patients are given time to heal and regain their strength; usually during four to six weeks of recovery.
The next step is to start radiation therapy and chemotherapy. Most patients who need radiation therapy will have external beam radiation therapy, which is usually given every day (Monday – Friday) for six weeks, for a total of 30 treatments. Chemotherapy consists of a drug called temozolomide (also called Temodar) that is given daily with radiation. Unlike other chemotherapies, Temodar is a pill that is taken daily and does not require an IV or port placement. After radiation, patients will get additional chemotherapy using Temodar for 6 months or more depending on how they tolerate the medication.
Some physicians may also use a device called Optune, which goes on a patient’s head. Several electrodes are attached to the patient’s scalp to deliver an alternating electrical current. While patients do not feel this current, the Optune device has been shown to improve survival and slow tumor growth. However, it’s not for everyone. Patients who use Optune will need to shave their heads and wear the device for most of the day, so it’s important to discuss with your doctor about whether or not it’s a good fit for you.
Although these treatments can help improve symptoms and slow tumor growth, a GBM tumor is so aggressive that it typically grows back after several months. Another option is to enroll in a clinical trial.
Contributing: Anne McCarthy