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Former President Jimmy Carter says he has cancer

Former President Jimmy Carter during a book signing at The Washington Post on March 26, 2014 for his new book, “A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence and Power.” Religion News Service photo by Adelle M. Banks
President Jimmy Carter teaching Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga. Photo courtesy of Frank Kavanaugh

President Jimmy Carter teaching Sunday School at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga. Photo courtesy of Frank Kavanaugh

(Reuters) Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Wednesday that recent liver surgery revealed he had cancer that had spread to other parts of his body.

“I will be rearranging my schedule as necessary so I can undergo treatment by physicians at Emory Healthcare,” Carter, 90, said in a statement. “A more complete public statement will be made when facts are known, possibly next week.”

Carter, a Democrat, served as the 39th president from 1977 to 1981 after defeating Republican incumbent Gerald Ford. He was defeated for re-election in 1980 by Republican Ronald Reagan.

The Carter family has a history of pancreatic cancer, including his parents, two sisters and younger brother Billy Carter who all died from the disease.

Carter told the New York Times in 2007 that he and other relatives had given blood for genetic studies seeking to help doctors diagnose the disease.

Asked why he has escaped the disease for so long while it devastated the rest of his family he blamed smoking. “The only difference between me and my father and my siblings was that I never smoked a cigarette,” said Carter, former governor of Georgia and a state senator. “My daddy smoked regularly. All of them smoked.”

Carter’s health became a matter of concern in recent months after he cut short a trip to Guyana in May to observe national elections. At the time, the Carter Center in Atlanta said only that he had returned to his home state of Georgia after “not feeling well.”

The Carter Center said last week that he had undergone elective surgery at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital to remove a small mass in his liver and his prognosis was excellent.

Democratic President Barack Obama, who is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, spoke with Carter on Wednesday “to wish him a full and speedy recovery,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

“Jimmy, you’re as resilient as they come, and along with the rest of America, we are rooting for you,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

Republican Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and his wife issued a statement saying Carter was “in their prayers as he goes through treatment.”

Carter also received words of sympathy and encouragement via Twitter from former CNN host Larry King: “We go back many years. Stay strong Mr. President.”

A Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist on a range of issues from global democracy to women and children’s rights, as well as affordable housing, Carter published his latest book last month, titled “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.”

In July, he gave a wide-ranging interview to Reuters Editor-at-Large Sir Harold Evans on his life from his childhood on a Georgia peanut farm to his presidency.

Carter recalled growing up in a home without running water or electricity, at a time when he said the daily wage was $1 for a man and 75 cents for a woman, and a loaf of bread cost 5 cents.

He said the civil rights movement led to important progress toward racial equality in the United States, but lamented “there’s still a great prejudice in police forces against black people and obviously some remnants of extreme racism.”

Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa and David Adams in Miami; Additional reporting by David Beasley in Atlanta; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Mohammad Zargham

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  • President Carter may be off base on a few issues, and especially his comments about the police, he is still a fine man that deserves everyone’s respect. If only Islam had his equal.

  • I wish President Carter the best with his struggle with cancer. I hope he has a long time along with good health to be with and enjoy his family.

    His legacy unfortunately will be that he was one of the worst Presidents. Any time there is a terrible President it is terrible for the country.

    Because of his book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid he will be remembered as an anti-Semite.

    Hopefully relations between Egypt and Israel will continue to improve. Israelis will continue to live in peace despite of Carter’s attempts at meddling. This is because of Israel’s unilateral actions. If the PA wants a deal they better make the concessions required by Israel. Israelis care less and less about a deal and that means the PA will have to cough up more to get a deal.

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