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Former Utah senator 'optimistic' about pancreatic cancer outlook


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SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Sen. Bob Bennett said he and his doctors are “optimistic” about his pancreatic cancer, though his tumor is currently inoperable.

“This is a very serious disease, but it’s not a death sentence,” Bennett said. “We don’t know how fast the tumor is growing. It has not spread to any other organs, so that’s a very good thing.”

Bennett sat down with KSL Wednesday in his home, just outside the Beltway in Virginia. Seemingly energized, he said it was due to the steroids in his chemotherapy. The steroids have an effect for a couple days after the treatment.

“I’m glad you came when things were not as bad as they will be on Friday,” he said.

Bennett is in the second week of chemotherapy treatment that is expected to last six weeks. Bennett said he would undergo two weeks of “heavy duty” chemotherapy treatment, followed by a week off. He said he would then repeat that cycle a second time.

“There’s no way to get rid of the tumor, other than operation,” Bennett said.

The 81-year-old said the hope is the chemotherapy will shrink the tumor, making it easier to remove. Currently, Bennett said its proximity to critical arteries makes the tumor inoperable.

I don't get emotional in describing the medicine or the treatments or even the prospects. It's the tremendous outpouring of support.

–Former Sen. Bob Bennett

“I’m heartened by the fact that the doctors are doing this saying they think they can do it, it’s worth trying,” Bennett said.

Bennett said he’s trying to remain as active as possible — attending an occasional, short meeting, taking part in conference calls and using Skype to teach his class at the University of Utah.

“Having things to do and not feeling sorry for yourself is an important part of getting better,” Bennett said.

His treatment has for now scuttled plans to sell his home in Virginia and move to Utah. Staying in the Washington, D.C., area and receiving treatment from Johns Hopkins would cause less “disruption,” he said.

Bennett’s illness doesn’t bring tears to his eyes, but talking about the love and well-wishes he’s received does.

“I don’t get emotional in describing the medicine or the treatments or even the prospects, “ Bennett said. “It’s the tremendous outpouring of support.”


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Andrew Adams


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