I wanted to share an update about my health.
In February of this year, doctors at Mayo Clinic found small white spots called calcifications during a routine mammogram. After this was discovered, I had a biopsy at Piper Breast Center in Minneapolis, and then learned that I had Stage 1A breast cancer.
After a number of other tests, I returned to Mayo and had a lumpectomy on the right breast which involved the removal of the cancer. In May, I completed a course of radiation treatment, and after additional follow-up visits, it was determined in August that the treatment went well.
Of course this has been scary at times, since cancer is the word all of us fear, but at this point my doctors believe that my chances of developing cancer again are no greater than the average person.
I want to thank the incredible doctors and nurses I had the privilege to work with, my friends and loving family — including my husband John and daughter Abigail — for their support during the surgery and radiation, which also coincided with my dad’s illness and death. Their support allowed me to continue my work with my colleagues on major pandemic and economic legislation, as well as chairing the joint Senate January 6th investigation and the For the People hearings while undergoing cancer treatment.
I also want to call attention to the fact that many people have been delaying physicals and routine examinations because of the pandemic. I know that because I delayed mine. In fact, more than one in three adults reported delaying or forgoing health care because of coronavirus-related concerns. Studies have found that thousands of people who missed their mammogram due to the pandemic may be living with undetected breast cancer. Over and over, doctors are seeing patients who are being treated for more serious conditions that could have been caught earlier.
There is rarely a good time to go in for a mammogram or routine health screening. So many Americans are still juggling their children on their laps and their laptops on their desks. They are constantly balancing their families, their jobs, and their health. It’s easy to put off health screenings, just like I did. But I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams, and follow-through. I am so fortunate to have caught the cancer at an early enough stage and to not need chemotherapy or other extensive treatments, which unfortunately is not the case for so many others.
Like often happens with anyone dealing with illness, this experience gave me time to reflect on my own life and those I love. It also gave me renewed purpose to my work. I have immense gratitude for my family, friends, colleagues, and the people of Minnesota, and I know that each day is a gift.
Thank you for your support.