Blunt: Cancer Diagnosis Won’t Curb Busy Schedule

Posted July 23, 2003 at 5:44pm

House Republicans rallied around Majority Whip Roy Blunt on Wednesday after the Missouri Republican informed them he had been diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer.

The 53-year-old lawmaker, whose prostate condition was discovered during a routine screening, had a kidney and a cancerous tumor removed last year. His doctors — including John Eisold, who heads the Office of the Attending Physician — do not believe his prostate condition is related to his previous cancer, according to a statement issued by Blunt’s office.

Blunt will have his prostate removed during the August recess at Bethesda Naval Medical Center by Drs. Stephen Jackman and Joseph Costa, the same two physicians who operated on him last year.

“I have been extremely lucky to have excellent doctors in Springfield and Washington who have encouraged me to have regular checkups and screenings,” Blunt said in the statement. “Both cancers were caught early and appear to have been easily treatable because of early detection. I can’t stress enough how important regular and routine checkups are. It, in all likelihood, saved my life, and could save yours.”

In a brief interview, Blunt said he expected to be back up to speed soon after his surgery. The Whip is slated to attend events in his district and some fundraisers for colleagues in late August, and he said he has every intention of meeting those commitments.

“I intend to do a fair schedule after the first couple of weeks,” Blunt said.

Blunt informed his colleagues of his condition Wednesday morning, and they reacted to the news with concern but also stressed that they were confident he would fully recover and be able to continue his leadership work.

“I think people are just offering him their prayers and he’s reassuring them that the prognosis is good,” said Chief Deputy Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). “I don’t think he’ll miss a thing here on the Hill.”

Several lawmakers said Blunt’s condition reminded them of the importance of getting regular checkups, especially since many Members fall within the age range when men are most at risk for prostate cancer.

“Everybody’s just happy it’s been caught early,” said Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio). “[Blunt] got through his kidney problem and didn’t miss a beat. He’s in pretty good shape.”

Other Members marveled at the Majority Whip’s ability to stay upbeat through two cancer scares.

“I think it’s time he should go out and buy a lottery ticket. My guess is he’s going to win,” joked Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who also complimented Blunt’s positive attitude.

“He has got one of the best dispositions to endure this sort of thing,” he said.