Jimmy Carter Opens Up About His Cancer Diagnosis

Photo: REX Shutterstock.
This morning, in a frank and upbeat press conference that was full of jokes and reassurances, President Jimmy Carter spoke publicly for the first time about his cancer diagnosis. Carter, 90, revealed that the melanoma detected in his liver had spread to his brain — but he said he was "at ease" with whatever comes.

"I just thought I had a few weeks left, but I was surprisingly at ease. I've had a wonderful life," he said, speaking from the Carter Center in Atlanta. "I've had thousands of friends, I've had an exciting, adventurous, and gratifying existence. So I was surprisingly at ease — much more so than my wife was. But now I feel it's in the hands of God, who I worship, and I'll be prepared for anything that comes."

In May, after falling ill, Carter returned early from a trip to Guyana, where he was working to supervise elections. Last week, he issued a public statement saying that "recent liver surgery revealed that I have cancer that now is in other parts of my body." At today's press conference, he said the cancer had spread to his brain, and that he would begin radiation treatment this afternoon.

The former President said he will "cut back dramatically" on his role at the Carter Center — joking that he and his wife had (seemingly fruitlessly) discussed his working less when he turned 80, and again at 85. But now, in light of the diagnosis and Carter's recent 90th birthday, he'll finally do it. He also assured listeners that, with a $600 million endowment, the foundation is well-equipped to continue its work.

Carter, who was in the White House from 1977 to 1981, has been very active in the decades since. The Carter Center, which he founded, works to fight disease and promote peace. With the Center, Carter has supervised over 100 elections around the world.

In a question-and-answer session at the end of the press conference, Carter — who remained chipper, energetic, and entirely free of self-pity — was asked what was the best thing he'd ever done. "Marry Rosalynn," he said, smiling.

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