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.