Sen. John McCain broke news of his cancer ‘almost in passing’

Jul 19, 2017, 7:45 PM | Updated: Mar 1, 2018, 3:59 pm
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)...
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
(AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
LISTEN: Jeff Flake, Arizona Senator

PHOENIX — Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake learned of the news that Sen. John McCain has brain cancer when the two were already several minutes into an unrelated phone conversation.

Flake said he called and spoke with the senator’s wife, Cindy, before she handed the phone to her husband. The two senators talked about healthcare for several minutes, according to Flake, before he eventually asked McCain how he’s feeling (McCain had already been away from work in recent days to recover from surgery to remove a blood clot).

“And he said ‘Well, okay — Just got to go through some chemotherapy in the future,'” Flake said. “And that’s how I learned of the diagnosis.

“He also wanted to talk about how we make sure that Arizona is treated well and fairly under this new [health care] bill. And then just almost in passing, mentioned the diagnosis.”

Flake has been in office since 2013, while McCain has been a Senator since 1987.

“It’s been the honor of a lifetime to serve with John McCain,” Flake said. “I don’t think I’m done yet. I’m usually just called the ‘other senator from Arizona,’ and that’s a pretty good position to have, to serve as a junior Senator to John McCain.

“I can’t imagine this place without him.”

Several people in the political world and beyond took to Twitter and other mediums on Wednesday to offer support and condolences to McCain. Some made allusions to McCain’s time as a prisoner of war, using adjectives to describe McCain like “tough” and a “fighter.

Flake echoed that same sentiment.

“I told him we looked forward to having him back in the Senate and I’m sure he’ll be back here to do the National Defense Authorization Bill from his [Armed Services] Committee that he does so well with and can participate in some of these big debates that we’re having,” Flake said. “It’s obviously a tough diagnosis but he’s a tougher man.”

KTAR News’ Ashley Flood contributed to this report.

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Sen. John McCain broke news of his cancer ‘almost in passing’