Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) told two Florida newspapers Saturday that she has secretly battled breast cancer for the past year, undergoing seven major surgeries as she worked full time in Congress and as a chief fundraiser for House Democrats.
Wasserman Schultz, 42, said she now has a clean bill of health and will introduce a bill Monday calling for a national education campaign targeting women under 40.
In an interview with the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Florida Democrat said she discovered a lump in her breast through a self-exam soon after her first mammogram at age 40.
She had both her breasts removed because she carries a gene that makes her more susceptible to recurrence. She also had a surgery to remove her ovaries the day after Election Day because of a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
But she only told a small group of family and friends, opting to schedule treatment during Congressional recesses. She also didnt tell her three young children because she didnt want them to worry.
I didn't want it to define me, she told the Miami Herald. I didnt want when you wrote a story about me, I would become Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is battling breast cancer. I didn't want that to be my name because I knew I was going to be fine.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.