“Always been a fighter:” Shock, grief, support pours in after McCain brain cancer diagnosis

WASHINGTON — The news of Sen. John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis was immediately met with shock and grief Wednesday night, July 19th, with many taking to social media to express support for the Arizona Republican.

Several Republican senators learned of the news during a meeting about health care, North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven told CNN, adding that there was “stunned disbelief” in the room and they prayed for McCain.

“Senator John McCain has always been a fighter,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon. ”

Former President Barack Obama, McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign opponent, tweeted his support.

“Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John,” the 44th president wrote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called McCain “a hero to our conference and a hero to our country.”

“He has never shied from a fight and I know that he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life,” McConnell said in a statement. “We all look forward to seeing this American hero again soon.”

Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who is recovering from surgeries to treat the gunshot wound he recently sustained at a congressional baseball practice, said on Twitter he is “Praying for my friend @SenJohnMcCain, one of the toughest people I know.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican who is one of McCain’s closest friends on the Hill, said the Arizona senator told him he “wants to get back and get to work.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan called McCain a “warrior.”

“I know John is going to fight this with the same sheer force of will that has earned him the admiration of the nation. And all of us, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans, are behind him,” he said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she is “privileged to call him a friend.”

“.@SenJohnMcCain is a hero, a patriot and a fighter. I am privileged to call him a friend. Paul & I pray for his recovery and his family.”

Arizona’s other senator, Jeff Flake, wrote in a tweet, “Just spoke to @SenJohnMcCain. Tough diagnosis, but even tougher man.”

McCain’s 2008 running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, shared a photo to Facebook of the two at a campaign event, adding “he’ll face this diagnosis with courage and strength.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey echoed others in calling McCain, who spent more than five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, “undoubtedly the toughest man in the US Senate.”

“He is an American hero and has served our country like few ever will,” Ducey said on Twitter. “He has set an example for all Americans in the toughest of fights, in difficult circumstances. I have no doubt he’ll do it again.”

Hillary Clinton expressed her support for the McCain family.

“John McCain is as tough as they come,” she said in a tweet. “Thinking of John, Cindy, their wonderful children, & their whole family tonight.”

McCain’s daughter, Meghan McCain, responded to the news in a statement.

“The news of my father’s illness has affected every one of us in the McCain family. My grandmother, mother, brothers, sisters and I have all endured the shock of the news, and now we live with the anxiety about what comes next,” she said. “It won’t surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father. He is the toughest person I know.”