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Report: McCain returning to Arizona, will miss tax vote

U.S. Sen. John McCain, hospitalized last week for cancer-treatment side effects and a viral infection, traveled home to Arizona on Sunday, and won't be in D.C. to cast a vote on the Republican tax plan this week.

The 81-year-old Republican had been treated last week at Walter Reed hospital for side effects of treatment for brain cancer.

McCain will "undergo physical therapy and rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic" in Arizona, his office said Sunday.

The senator "has responded well to treatment he received at Walter Reed Medical Center for a viral infection and continues to improve," said Dr. Mark Gilbert, chief of Neuro-Oncology at the National Institutes of Health's National Cancer Institute. "An evaluation of his underlying cancer shows he is responding positively to ongoing treatment."

In a statement about his treatment Wednesday, his office said McCain "looks forward to returning to work as soon as possible," but that doesn't appear to be happening soon. The senator "looks forward to returning to Washington in January," the statement released Sunday said.

McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer, in July, when he had a two-inch tumor removed.

McCain "is grateful for the excellent care he continues to receive, and appreciates the outpouring of support from people all over the country," his office said Sunday.

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McCain left Washington Sunday and is heading back to his home state to spend the holidays with his family. He will not be on hand for the final vote on the GOP tax passage expected for early this week. It is unclear when McCain might return to Washington.

Despite a razor-thin margin needed to pass the measure, McCain's presence will not likely be the determining factor in the vote. Two critical senators -- Bob Corker of Tennessee and Marco Rubio of Florida -- announced their support for the bill last week after initially saying they would oppose earlier versions.

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His son-in-law said on "Face the Nation" Sunday that McCain had been "in good spirits."

"I'm happy to say that he's doing well. The truth is that as anyone knows whose family has battled cancer or any significant disease that oftentimes there are side effects of treatment that you have. The senator has been through a round of chemo and he was hospitalized this week at Walter Reed," said Ben Domenech, a conservative writer and husband of Meghan McCain.

The senator's daughter, Meghan McCain, tweeted Sunday afternoon: "My father is doing well and we are all looking forward to spending Christmas together in Arizona."

The Arizona Republican was "receiving treatment at Walter Reed Medical Center for normal side effects of his ongoing cancer therapy," his office said Wednesday.

"As ever, he remains grateful to his physicians for their excellent care, and his friends and supporters for their encouragement and good wishes. Senator McCain looks forward to returning to work as soon as possible," that statement from McCain's office said.

Details about the side effects were not released. Walter Reed is a national military hospital near Washington, D.C. McCain has been treated with chemotherapy and radiation.

Also Wednesday, former Vice President Joe Biden consoled McCain's daughter, Meghan, during a taping of her TV program, The View.

Biden's son Beau died in 2015 from the same type of cancer that the senator was diagnosed with.

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The senator later thanked Biden and "the entire Biden family for serving as an example & source of strength for my own family" via Twitter.

McCain was treated for a torn Achilles tendon in November. Doctors who have not examined McCain told TucsonSentinel.com that the ankle injury was likely not directly related to the senator's cancer or treatment side effects.

McCain was also treated then for what his office called "other normal and non-life-threatening side effects of cancer therapy."

The six-term senator has a form of cancer that is the most aggressive type that begins in the brain, with early symptoms that may include personality changes, headaches, and symptoms similar to those of a stroke.

Glioblastomas generally recur, despite surgery and cancer treatments, and most patients live 12-15 months after diagnosis. Less than 3-5 percent live longer than five years, with those patients who are not treated dying within three months.

Glioblastoma is the same variety of cancer that killed Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., in 2009. Kennedy was diagnosed in 2008 after a seizure.

McCain has had less-aggressive cancers before. McCain had surgery to remove Stage IIa melanoma in 2000, including removing the lymph nodes on the left side of his neck. He has had four operations to remove skin cancers since 1993, and at least one non-cancerous mole removed as a precaution, in 2008.

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McCain speaking in the Senate in July, after his surgery to remove a brain tumor.

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