Former President Jimmy Carter held a news conference Thursday and revealed details of his cancer. It was televised live on MSNBC. He disclosed that the tumor removed from his liver August 3rd was melanoma. The former president revealed that the melanoma had also spread to his brain. He is beginning radiation at Emory Hospital in Atlanta immediately to treat the problem.
Carter appeared at the news conference in a blazer, tie and jeans, surrounded by family members including his wife, Rosalynn. Despite his ordeal, the president was cheerful, smiling, and very spry. He said that when they removed the tumor and ten percent of his liver, surgeons told him they were confident they got it all so he was relieved. However, that was short-lived. An MRI later that day showed that the cancer was also found on his brain. There were six 2-millimeter spots. He said at the time he thought he had only a few weeks left. He could not bring himself to tell his wife for two weeks.
He said it’s still not exactly sure where the cancer originated. Melanoma develops in the skin 98 percent of the time, Carter said. Doctors will scan the rest of his body repeatedly for months to come to determine if the cancer shows up anywhere else. He said the treatment will take several months, but he would not venture any prognosis other than to say he that so far he has very little pain and no weakness, and was confident that the pain from his treatment would be manageable.
The 39th president was very lucid and thorough as he described the cancer and the treatment he will receive. He said he was surprisingly at ease when he learned the diagnosis, much more so than his wife. Carter said that he has had a wonderful life, thousands of friends and puts this in God’s hands. “I’ll be prepared for anything that comes,” he said.
Jimmy Carter will soon be 91. He still teaches Sunday school every Sunday at Maranatha Baptist Church in his home town of Plains, Georgia. It was revealed after he left office that while he was president he left the White House on Sundays and taught Sunday school at a church in Washington DC. His faith is a very important aspect of his life.
Jason Carter, the president’s grandson, told MSNBC Thursday that when he told his family about the diagnosis, he said that now he needed to tell the public.
He was asked what the greatest accomplishment in his full life was. He replied “Marrying Rosalynn. She has been the pinnacle of my life and we have had 69 years together.” When asked if he had any regrets, Carter said he wished he would have sent one more helicopter. Had I done that, Carter mused, the hostages would have been rescued that night, and I would have won the election. But, he said, that may have interfered with the Carter Center and if he had to choose between a second term and the Carter Center, he’d pick the Carter Center.
Jimmy Carter is the most active former president, and perhaps the most popular. He has been a champion of human rights around the world. He still monitors elections in various elections. Carter earned a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002. He went to North Korea to help defuse nuclear tensions, and he negotiated a settlement that averted a U.S. invasion of Haiti. The Carter Center works to end human suffering across the globe. Today, he said that one of the Center’s achievements is that is has nearly eradicated Guinea Worm, a disease that causes blindness in third world countries. He said there are only 15 cases left.
The president and his wife Rosalynn continue to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. It is not a publicity stunt; the couple actually works, carrying 2 x 4s, cutting them, and nailing them into place. They out-work many much younger volunteers.
Carter said he will slow down during the treatment, but will still be involved in the Carter Center as much as his health allows. His grandson, Jason Carter, will assume the chairmanship of the Atlanta-based Center. At the end of the news conference, the assembled reporters gave Carter a sustained standing ovation as he exited the hall.