ferraro battling blood cancer

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Thanks to SpcAgtMom for this article


Ferraro Battling Blood Cancer


.c The Associated Press


NEW YORK (AP) – Former Rep. Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic nominee for

vice president in 1984, has blood cancer, and is battling it with the

controversial drug thalidomide.

The drug was banned in the early 1960s for causing birth defects in babies

whose mothers took it for insomnia and morning sickness, but it has since

been found to be effective against cancer.

Ferraro is among the first patients with her condition, called multiple

myeloma, to receive the drug.

“She’s approaching this challenge as she has approached other challenges in

her life,” Dr. Ken Anderson said at a news conference Tuesday at the St.

Vincent’s Comprehensive Cancer Center in Manhattan. “She has taken charge of

her illness and taken charge of her care. I’m sure she’ll be a winner.”

Ferraro’s cancer is in remission. “She has little if any myeloma now. It

hasn’t slowed her down,” Anderson said.

Ferraro, 65, was diagnosed with the cancer of the white blood cells after a

routine physical in December 1998. The disease leads to death within five

years for half of its victims.

However, those statistics do not reflect the improved prognosis for someone

like Ferraro who was diagnosed early in her illness, quickly went into

remission and was initially relatively healthy, said both Anderson and Kathy

Giusti, president of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

“She’s going to do very well for many months or years, although I can’t say

she will be cured,” Anderson said.

Ferraro disclosed her illness in a New York Times interview published Tuesday

and discussed it on the “Today” show. She said she feels fine.

“I don’t want anybody to treat me any differently,” Ferraro said on

“Today.” “I’m still going to go on and do the things that I do.”

Ferraro’s disease was first classified as “smoldering myeloma,” or

inactive. When tests showed the cancer cells were multiplying, she was

prescribed thalidomide.

She plans to discuss her illness at a Senate hearing Thursday as part of an

effort to speed the marketing of new drugs that might help patients with

multiple myeloma and other uncommon diseases. Giusti and Anderson said it now

takes eight to 10 years for a promising drug to go from research through

government approval to market.

“When thalidomide stops working for Geraldine, what’s the next treatment for

her?” said Giusti, who is herself in remission from multiple myeloma. “If

we keep pushing the research, it will happen much faster.”

Ferraro, who served three terms in Congress, was Walter Mondale’s running

mate in 1984 – the first woman to run as a major party candidate for national

office – and ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate

in New York in 1992 and 1998.

Multiple myeloma is one of the top 10 cancer killers among black Americans,

and is more common among the elderly than the general population, Giusti


According to the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, multiple myeloma is

the second most prevalent blood cancer and represents approximately 1 percent

of all cancers and 2 percent of all cancer deaths. About 14,000 new cases and

11,000 deaths from multiple myeloma are reported each year in the United


On the Net:

Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation: http://www.multiplemyeloma.org/

American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org

AP-NY-06-19-01 1558EDT

Copyright 2001 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news

report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed

without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. All active

hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.


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