The following editorial appears in Friday's Arizona Daily Star:

Cover politics, immigration, health care, national security, agriculture, banking, campaign finance, the military, LGBTQ equality and pretty much anything else for long enough and the road will intersect with Sen. John McCain.

He’s often described as a “fixture,” and after 35 years in Washington, D.C. — two terms in the House and now his  sixth in the Senate — the description fits.

McCain has been a regular visitor to the Arizona Daily Star over the years, meeting with news reporters and the Editorial Board to give updates when Congress was in recess and when he was running for re-election.

The Star’s editorial department has endorsed McCain for re-election in the Senate, although not for president. We’ve agreed with him, and criticized him strongly, too. He’s done the same.

These interviews have been a chance to ask McCain questions about Arizona concerns, and they’re often wide-ranging conversations that also encompass national and international matters. We’ve had fiery disagreements with the Republican senator, but have always respected his passion and knowledge of global affairs.

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But the times we think about now, with the news that McCain has an aggressive brain cancer, are those moments when the policy talk gave way to a glimpse of John McCain the man — how he accepted a compliment on hosting Saturday Night Live in 2002 by promising to do a song and dance number the next time he visited the Star, and his glee at being offered two kinds of cake at an Editorial Board meeting a few years back. (You have to try both, he said, and we agreed with him.)

Or the long, quiet pause he took to gather himself as he talked about the 2008 presidential election, when he spoke about a fellow veteran he’d known well.

It is human nature to search for a lesson when faced with bad news or a tragedy, and McCain has become an example of why affordable, accessible medical care is so crucial for everyone.

No one, not even John McCain, who survived more than five years of torture as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, is exempt from illness or disease.

McCain’s diagnosis is also a stark reminder that no matter what we believe, what political position we take, what job we have, how much wealth we possess, or how hard we work, each of us is a single person facing life the best we know how.

We join with Arizonans in sending our thoughts to McCain and his family. And, senator, the next time you visit the Star, we’ll bring the cake.

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