D.C. City Councilman Julius Hobson Sr. said yesterday that he has "acute leukemia" and that his doctors have given him only six months to live.
"I've had a conference with six doctors and I'm under no illusions." Hobson said in an interview, "I've lived a good life, I've lived long enough anyway."
Hobson, 54, said he planned to continue his work on the Council "until this thing really slams me."
At that point, he said, he plans to undergo a radical type of chemical treatment that doctors have prescribed for him. In the meantime, he said, he is undergoing out-patient treatment at George Washington University Medical Center.
His wife, Tina Hobson, said doctors have warned the family that there is only a 10 per cent chance that the radical chemotherapy will cause the disease to halt its progress.
"Julius has to have this hope," she said. "He has been used to that 1-in-10 chance . . . "
For years before being elected to the Council in 1974, Hobson was one of the city's most effective black activists. In 1971, doctors said he had multiple myeloma, a frequently fatal cancer that attacks the spine. At the time, the doctors gave him six months to live.
"The reason I didn't tell the papers this time is because the doctors only gave me six months to live last time and I thought people might be bored," Hobson said.
He went into George Washington University Medical Center Tuesday for what a hospital spokeswoman described as "routine therapy" for the multiple myeloma. She said he was benefit to the child and can, in the expected to remain there for two to three weeks.
However, he returned to his home yesterday because his doctors had found that the radical chemotherapy is not necessary at this time, Mrs. Hobson said.
"We've had a month to cope with this, so we've had a chance to get used to the worst of it," she said. "He's comfortable now. We've spent a month shutting the door and crying, but now he plans to continue his work."
On Monday, Hobson attended the Council's first session of the new year. Higher education was added to the responsibilities of the education and youth affairs committee that Hobson heads.
On the same day, Hobson announced an extensive legislative package that includes a provision for statehood for the District. He is the founder of the D.C. Statehood Party and represents its interests as an at large member of the Council.
It was understood that he wished to complete work on the legislative package - the key provision of which has been voted down by the Council in past sessions - before entering the hospital Tuesday.
Of his illness, Hobson said yesterday that he had beaten the multiple myeloma. "But nobody has ever beaten the combination of multiple myeloma and leukemia," he added.
"Julius is facing his last battle," said Mrs. Hobson. "He has this terrific lust for life. That's what brought him through the first time.
"Now we have this 'Hobson's choice': if he does nothing, he has six months. If he takes the chemotherapy, then he only has a 10 per cent chance anyway. But there is that chance of remission."
"I'm not all that put out right now," said Hobson. "I expect to be back in the office tomorrow."