On Wednesday, a pair of people who've lived their lives very much in the thick of the world of politics came together for a tender moment of consolation on network television. Specifically, Joe Biden and Meghan McCain joined The View and began to talk about John McCain's brain cancer diagnosis. The interview is full of emotion, as well as a powerful message.
It's not difficult to understand why the two would feel a bond about this. The elder McCain was diagnosed earlier this year with glioblastoma, a type of aggressive brain cancer that typically has a very poor prognosis. It is generally fatal, although with treatment, a sufferer can typically expect to live about a year, while only about five percent typically live more than five years. As a man of considerable personal wealth, however, the 81-year-old senator will have access to high-quality health care.
Given this history, it's obvious why Meghan ― who joined The View as a co-host in October ― would feel emotional about glioblastoma, and Biden can definitely relate. In 2015, his adult son Beau Biden died of glioblastoma, an experience that left him grief-stricken, and one he details in his new book, Promise Me, Dad. Biden appeared on The View to discuss the book on Wednesday, and things got pretty emotional.
Speaking through tears, Meghan asked Biden to bear with her, and explained that the parallels between his experience with Beau and hers with her father made his book too hard for her to read.
"This is the hard part," Meghan said. "Bear with me, ok? I couldn't get through your book, I tried. Your son Beau had the same cancer that my father was diagnosed with six months ago."
Biden then switched chairs to sit next to her, holding her hand and attempting to provide some comfort by noting some of the cutting-edge advances that have been made in treating glioblastoma. Throughout his final year as vice president, Biden directed much of his attention towards advancing a so-called "moonshot," an effort at finding new cures and treatments for cancer in memory of his late son. He's continued to be a vocal advocate for cancer research as a private citizen.
He then told Meghan that her father was uniquely well-equipped for the challenges posed by the cancer, and that the advancement of new treatments meant that for so many cancer sufferers, there's new hope.
"There is hope," Biden said. "And if there's anybody who can make it, it's your dad. Her dad, he's one of my best friends. Her dad, her dad goes after me, hammer and tong. We're like two brothers who were somehow raised by different fathers or something."
Biden's foremost piece of advice was pretty simple, but it seemed to be appreciated; he told Meghan and the audience about the importance of finding hope in a desperate situation, which manifested in his son's case through a decision not to discuss his low percentage odds of a recovery.
The thing that I found, and Beau insisted on, your dad's gonna insist on, is you got to maintain hope. You have to have hope. ... Beau would say, "let's make a deal, we're not going to talk about percentages dad."
If you have the time, and if you're either dealing with the grief and worry of an ailing loved one, or want to take in Biden's message of personal tragedy and perseverance now in case you ever do, the full video is definitely worth a watch. Biden's full conversation with the women of The View is currently up on YouTube for all to see; while the former vice president may be out of politics for the time being, he's keeping busy working at the University of Pennsylvania since leaving office earlier this year.