Ahead of the launch of an anticipated White House bid, Sen. Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.) announced Wednesday that he has prostate cancer and will undergo surgery later this month.
“Late last month, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” the 54-year-old said in a statement posted to Twitter late Wednesday. “While hearing news like this is never easy, I am fortunate it was detected early, and as a result, my prognosis is good.”
If he is cancer-free after the surgery, Bennet said he still plans to join the ever-growing pool of Democratic presidential hopefuls, according to the Colorado Independent. On Twitter, Bennet said he will have surgery in Colorado during the coming Senate recess, which starts next week.
“The work we have in front of us to restore a politics that is worthy of our kids and grandkids has never been more important,” he said in the statement. “This unanticipated hurdle only reinforces how strongly I feel about contributing to the larger conversation about the future of our country ...”
Bennet, a self-described “pragmatic idealist,” made national headlines for his fiery takedown of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on the Senate floor in January over the most recent government shutdown, The Washington Post’s Colby Itkowitz reported. Usually a “mild-mannered, congenial guy,” Itkowitz wrote that Bennet appeared to unleash “six years of pent-up ire” directed at Cruz in a 25-minute address that swiftly went viral on social media.
In February, Bennet hinted at the possibility of pursuing the presidency during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“We’ve got a million people that are going to run, which I think is great,” he said. But, he added, “I think having one more voice in that conversation that’s focused on America’s future, I don’t think would hurt.”
On Wednesday, he told the Independent that he’d planned to announce “sometime in April.” Then, he went in for a physical. Bennet’s prostate-specific antigen test results came back high and a biopsy showed malignancy, the Independent reported.
“Then the question became: Is this still something I wanted to do?” Bennet said of his potential presidential bid. “I could answer the question in two ways. Maybe this would be a good time to give it up and go do something else. And the other was whether I could continue to run. I found myself hoping that I could run. That’s what the doctors have said. That’s what John Kerry and others learned.”
In 2003, during his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, then-Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) announced he had prostate cancer and would have surgery. Like Bennet, Kerry’s prognosis was good and he told reporters that he expected to be back on the trail “within a matter of weeks,” The Post reported at the time.
The cancer is one of the most common types to occur in men, according to the Mayo Clinic. The American Cancer Society reports that about one in nine men are diagnosed during their lifetime. The organization estimates there will be roughly 174,650 new cases in 2019.
For now, Bennet said he’s taking his diagnosis in stride.
“I’m too busy to really sit back and think about it,” he told the Independent. “and that’s probably the best thing.”
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