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McCain: 'I've Got to Do Everything I Can to Serve This Country While I Can'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told 60 Minutes in an interview at his Sedona ranch aired Sunday that battling brain cancer has made him “more energetic and more engaged” because “I know that I’ve got to do everything I can to serve this country while I can.”

McCain, 81, is undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for glioblastoma.

The senator said he thinks a lot about Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), who lost his life to the same type of cancer. “Ted stayed at his job, kept working. Kept going even when he was in a wheelchair,” he said. “And he never gave up because he loved the engagement.”

“They said that it’s very serious — that the prognosis is very, very serious,” McCain said of doctors telling him the news. “Some say three percent, some say 14 percent. You know, it’s a very poor prognosis. So I just said, ‘I understand. Now we’re gonna do what we can, get the best doctors we can find and do the best we can.’ And, at the same time, celebrate with gratitude a life well lived.”

McCain was asked about President Trump’s infamous remarks about the senator not being a war hero, but “he’s a war hero because he was captured — I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”

“If I took offense at everybody who has said something about me, or disparaged me or something like that– life is too short. You’ve gotta move on. And on an issue of this importance to the nation, for me to worry about a personal relationship, then I’m not doing my job,” he said of his July thumb’s-down vote that killed the “skinny repeal” healthcare bill.

McCain confirmed that Trump never apologized for the “war hero” comments.

“I don’t know what he’s gonna do tomorrow… he changes his statements almost on a daily basis. So for me to spend my time trying to analyze what he says, I don’t know,” the senator said. “…I’d be glad to converse with him. But I also understand that we’re very different people. Different upbringing. Different life experiences. He is in the business of making money and he has been successful both in television as well as Miss America and others. I was raised in a military family. I was raised in the concept and belief that duty, honor, country is the lodestar for the behavior that we have to exhibit every single day.”

McCain recalls as “the joy of my life” the “bonds that were forged between me and my fellow POWs.”

“They were wonderful. We fought together. We loved each other. We would tap on the walls to each other. I look back on that experience with a great deal of pride,” he said.

The senator said his fight against brain cancer hasn’t changed him. “You just have to understand that it’s not that you’re leaving. It’s that you stayed. I celebrate what a guy who stood fifth from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy has been able to do. I am so grateful. Every night when I go to sleep, I am just filled with gratitude.”

“I have feelings sometimes of fear of what happens. But as soon as I get that, I say, ‘Wait a minute. Wait a minute. You’ve been around a long time, old man. You’ve had a great life. You’ve had a great experience.’ I want– I want– when I leave, that the ceremony is at the Naval Academy. And we just have a couple of people that stand up and say, ‘This guy, he served his country.'”