Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, Republican elder statesman, announced he has advanced lung cancer
Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, the elder statesman of Kansas Republican politics, has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, he said in a statement Thursday.
Dole, 97, who represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996 and who ran for president in 1996, said he will begin treatment Monday.
"While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges on their own," Dole said in a statement.
About 40% of all lung cancer diagnoses fall into the stage four bracket, according to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. The five-year survival rate for those diagnoses is 10%.
U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, who holds the seat formerly occupied by Dole, said in a statement that "I have not known a better public servant" than his mentor.
“I have zero doubt in my mind Senator Dole will take this challenge head on the same way as other challenges he faced in his life," Marshall said. "Just as he did as one of the heroes from our greatest generation, in this battle, Senator Dole will continue to show us the way through hope, resiliency, and perseverance."
Former U.S. Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, who served alongside Dole in Washington, said he called her earlier this week with the news of his diagnosis. She said he seemed optimistic that the treatment would be successful and was planning a return trip to Kansas in the coming weeks.
"His voice was exceptionally strong," Baker said in an interview. "I think he is hopeful that this will really prove to be a successful procedure. Bob always tends to want to find a bright side of an issue."
Sam Brownback, who succeeded Dole in the U.S. Senate before later serving as governor, said Dole's strength would shine through in his fight against cancer.
"Bob Dole is a fighter so I wouldn't assume anything," Brownback said in an interview.
Former U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts pointed to Dole's military service, when he was wounded in battle during World War II, and said he "is no less determined to get well now."
"We know cancer is tough, but Bob Dole is tougher," Roberts said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran quoted from what he said was Dole's favorite song, "You'll Never Walk Alone," in encouraging him.
"I know I speak for Kansans when I say we are all thinking of Sen. Dole and wishing him comfort and healing," Moran said in a Tweet.
Dole was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1961, serving eight years before being elected to the U.S. Senate. He wouldn't leave that body until resigning in 1996 to focus on his presidential campaign, a race he eventually lost to Bill Clinton.
For the final decade of his Senate career, Dole served as the Republican floor leader, including three years as Senate majority leader. He also served as chair of the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973.
He has maintained a low public profile in recent years, although Dole was the lone former presidential nominee to attend the 2016 Republican National Convention. He also made campaign appearances by phone for Marshall in November.
Dole has encountered health issues, including hospitalizations at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in 2012 and again in 2017. In 2001, he underwent surgery to treat an aneurysm.