As treat­ment be­gins, Carter to scale back work


For­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter says he will step back from his hu­man­i­tar­ian work and sur­round him­self with his fam­ily as he un­der­goes three months of treat­ment for melanoma can­cer.

This week­end, rel­a­tives will gather in his tiny home­town of Plains, Ge­or­gia, to celebrate his wife’s 88th birth­day. He plans to teach Sun­day School at his church, as he of­ten does. And on Oct. 1, Carter will turn 91.

The for­mer pres­i­dent was re­lent­lessly up­beat Thurs­day, mak­ing jokes and flash­ing his wide smile dur­ing an open and hon­est 45-minute press con­fer­ence about his can­cer di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment. He said he was “ready for a new ad­ven­ture” and felt his life’s work was not done.

“Within the bounds of my phys­i­cal and men­tal ca­pa­bil­ity I’ll con­tinue to do it,” Carter said. “But I’m go­ing to have to give the treat­ment reg­i­men top pri­or­ity.”

Carter served in sub­marines in the Navy and spent years as a peanut farmer be­fore run­ning for of­fice, be­com­ing a state sen­a­tor and Ge­or­gia gover­nor. His “plain­spo­ken” na­ture helped Democrats re­take the White House in 1976. On Thurs­day, he said he re­mains proud of what he ac­com­plished as pres­i­dent, but more grat­i­fied by the hu­man­i­tar­ian work he’s done since, which earned him a No­bel Peace Prize in 2002.

Carter’s spir­its only seemed to dampen when he ex­pressed doubt about be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate in a home-build­ing mis­sion in Nepal this Novem­ber with Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity. The trip would have been the 33rd for Carter and his wife, Ros­alynn. In­stead, he said, fam­ily mem­bers may have to take his place.

Carter re­ceived tar­geted ra­di­a­tion ther­apy Thurs­day. It was aimed at four small tu­mors in his brain.

Ear­lier in the week, he re­ceived an in­jec­tion of a newly ap­proved drug to help his im­mune sys­tem seek out and de­stroy can­cer cells that may de­velop any­where else in his body. He will have that treat­ment three more times at three- week in­ter­vals, and there could be other ra­di­a­tion treat­ments, if needed.


For­mer U.S. Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter talks about his can­cer di­ag­no­sis dur­ing a news con­fer­ence at The Carter Cen­ter in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia on Thurs­day, Aug. 20.

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