It’s always hard to hear that a person has passed away from cancer. It’s a horrible disease that can completely change a person’s life as well as their families, causing deep pain and enormous stress. With Senator John McCain’s passing from Glioblastoma Multiforme, it reminds me of what our family went through when my husband succumbed to the same illness.
Glioblastoma Multiforme is the worst form of brain cancer a person can get. Very few people live through it and the average survival rate from diagnosis is 15-16 months. My husband made it for 9 months. The fact that Senator McCain, at 81 years old, survived for 14 months is amazing because it’s extremely aggressive.
Once a tumor forms in the brain it’s impossible to get rid of. Even if a doctor operates and extracts it, there are still cells floating around that will rapidly regrow as a new tumor.
The Glioblastoma Multiforme diagnosis
We found out about my husband’s diagnosis when he had a seizure. He was helping a friend bomb his apartment for bugs and we thought he inhaled too much bug bomb. An ambulance was called, and he was rushed to a hospital. They did a C-scan but found nothing.
Several weeks afterward, he started losing his balance. I took him to a neurologist for an examination. The doctor scheduled him for an MRI and they found a mass in his brain. The diagnosis was glioblastoma multiforme and he was told to get his affairs in order.
He had surgery to remove the tumor and was put on chemo and radiation. The radiation oncologist turned out to be Dr. Lewinsky. (Monica’s father) It was difficult watching a man who had been in perfect shape and who was never ill, start to deteriorate.
He had several seizures between the time he was diagnosed until he passed away. One time he was home alone with my son who was 11 years old at the time. I was at a friend’s house attempting to start a new business selling makeup because he could no longer work anymore. My son called 911 and then called me. Thank heavens for Boy Scout training! I rushed home before he was put into the ambulance, but I can’t imagine the trauma my son went through.
Putting words and sentences together became difficult. He would forget what things were called or replace a word with something that didn’t make sense. Cooking was therapeutic for him because he had to follow a recipe. It would take hours for him to fix a meal, but it gave him a sense of satisfaction afterward.
I had to take the car keys away from him because he wasn’t allowed to drive. One time, he swiped the keys and headed to a donut shop. As he was leaving he bumped into a car in the parking lot. After that, the keys had to be locked up.
There were times when I traveled across town for work and it was always a challenge leaving him home when the kids were in school. They also had to be picked up and taken to where ever they needed to go to give them a semblance of normal life.
Our last-ditch effort
We were about to try a different treatment protocol at UCLA and had gone to the first appointment with a new doctor. A week later my husband collapsed in the bathroom. I was told to take him to the ER at UCLA the next morning. His brother came to help me put him in the car and drive him over because I couldn’t do it by myself. By the time we got there, he was in bad shape.
He stayed at UCLA Medical Center for two nights and then they wanted me to take him home because there wasn’t anything else they could do. My parent’s hadn’t arrived yet from up North to take care of my kids and I didn’t think I’d be able to deal with taking care of my dying husband at home. I was able to convince the hospital to have him transferred to the Motion Picture Hospital where he had his own room. His family, including his mother, arrived just in time from Michigan to bid him goodbye before he passed away. He was only 49 years old.
My sympathies go out to Senator McCain’s family
I know what the McCain family went through because I experienced it myself. Even though I’m a die-hard liberal, I respected him greatly as a true American hero and as someone who had integrity and character. (sorely missing these days) He was honest and did what he believed in even if it went against the party line and worked with others across the aisle. It never ceased to infuriate me when the President belittled him at rallies after he was diagnosed. To me, that’s sick and beyond unconscionable!
Ted Kennedy and Beau Biden also died from Glioblastoma Multiforme.
Let’s hope this terrible disease will be wiped off the planet soon, as well as all other cancers. My wish is that no one else or their families will have to suffer the consequences of it.
RIP Senator McCain. Thank you for your service to this nation. To donate to end this horrific disease, click here.
Have you been a caregiver for someone who has had Glioblastoma Multiforme or another terminal disease? Please leave a comment below.