Thanks to SpcAgtMom for this article
Ferraro Battling Blood Cancer
By BETH J. HARPAZ
.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
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
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