Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that the tumor in his neck that led to the discovery of his cancer has shrunk considerably after two rounds of chemotherapy — a sign, he said, that he is responding well to treatment.
The doctors “are very, very pleased. They are almost shocked at how well I’m doing,” Hogan (R) said during a phone interview from his room at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, shortly before he was discharged on Thursday afternoon. “They think the odds are great. I’m doing better than expected.”
The governor, who was hospitalized Sunday to begin his second chemo session, has lost some of his hair as a result of the treatment and must limit his contact with the public for fear of exposure to germs. Otherwise, he said, the chemotherapy drugs have had minimal effect on his ability to function.
“Every day, they go over a whole list: Are you feeling this? Do you have this symptom? Is this bothering you? I keep saying, ‘No, I feel great,’ ” Hogan said. “And they are all scratching their heads, because they can’t figure out why I’m feeling so good.”
Hogan, who had more than 30 tumors in his neck, chest, abdomen and groin when he was diagnosed with aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, said the growth in his neck has shrunk by about 80 percent, in his own estimation. “I’m hoping the same thing is happening everywhere,” he said.
Hogan is scheduled to have several tests in the near future, including an MRI, to document more clearly whether the chemotherapy is working. He said he received a spinal tap on Tuesday, which left him with a slight headache.
The hospital set up a conference table and a couch in the room next to Hogan’s, so that he could meet with staffers. “It’s very convenient,” the governor said. “Nurses come in and out of both rooms, taking my vital signs in between meetings.”
Nearly all day Monday, he met with Craig Williams, his chief of staff, who on Thursday represented Hogan at a meeting of the National Governors Association in West Virginia.
During his hospital stay, Hogan said, he has gone through piles of paperwork, reviewed memos from “every single agency” and taken a second look at budget reductions in “every single agency.” He also signed off on a couple hundred appointments.
“It is interesting, when I’m in the office, I’m busy with back-to-back meetings every 15 minutes,” said Hogan, who was hospitalized for four days in June for his first round of chemo.
“Here I have more uninterrupted time to actually work through things and have substantive discussions with staff.”
Hogan said his doctors and other hospital staff were alarmed when they saw a posting on his official Facebook page about a fundraiser he attended the day before he was admitted to the hospital. It included dozens of pictures of Hogan hugging and shaking hands with friends and donors — physical contact that the health-care professionals said was “really a bad idea.”
“My immune system is compromised, so they are like, ‘Stop shaking so many hands and stop hugging people,’ ” Hogan said. “That’s hard for me to do, because that’s sort of what I do. . . . For a couple of months, I’m going to have to back off a little bit of that. Hopefully people understand.”
Hogan said he has gotten exercise by walking both floors of the oncology ward, covering a route that he was told would equal a mile if he did it 17 times. He visited with other cancer patients along the way.
“I think I’ve talked to every patient in every room,” Hogan said. “Seeing what some of these other patients are going through has been really inspiring.”