Bobby Rush says he is cancer free

August 4, 2008 4:10:16 PM PDT
Illinois Congressman Bobby Rush says he is cancer-free. Rush and his doctors talked to reporters Monday, five months after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his salivary gland. The congressman is using his own health announcement to push for health care for all Americans.

Looking noticeably different than he did just a few months ago, Bobby Rush said he is up to the job as a congressman and will not let cancer slow him down. Rush called Monday's press conference not only to talk about his condition, but also to call for a national conversation on health care. Lastly, Rush said the most important purpose of Monday's appearance was to thank his medical team at the University of Chicago Medical Center.

Congressman Bobby Rush called the last five months a "life transforming experience." Looking thin, gray and speaking with a heavily slurred voice, Rush felt it was important for his constituents to know that while he may not look healthy, he is healthy.

"I no longer have cancer in my body," said Rep. Bobby Rush, (D) Chicago.

Last February , Rush was diagnosed with a very rare form of salivary gland cancer. A deep tumor was removed from his jaw, followed up with a combination of radiation and chemotherapy.

"He had to put up with a lot of soreness and misery that this treatment inflicted upon him. In fact, I'm impressed at how quickly he has recovered," said Dr. Daniel Haraf, University of Chicago Medical Center.

Now that he has recovered, Rush says he is a changed man. Personally, Rush says he has become more spiritual. Professionally, the congressman is now devoted to becoming an aggressive advocate for universal health care, especially for the poor and homeless.

"I could never be satisfied," said Rush.

Unable to finish his sentence, Rush choked up when talking about how so many people with cancer do not have the same access to health care that he does.

The 1st District congressman says he is disappointed in both presidential candidates for not making health care the No. 1 issue.

Rush had this to say to Barack Obama:

"Spend more time talking about things that affect all Americans," said Rush.

While Rush's recovery continues with speech and physical therapy, his doctors are giving the congressman the green light to return to a full schedule in Washington.

"Nothing you can do in D.C. is as bad as we did to you here," said Dr. Elizabeth Blair, University of Chicago Medical Center.

As for the return of cancer, Blair says Bobby Rush's form of cancer is so rare there is not enough information to predict the chances of the cancer returning.

For now, the congressman's latest CT scan shows he is cancer free. As a congressman, Rush says he also plans to push for more funding for cancer research.


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