On Sunday, Jimmy Carter announced that he no longer requires cancer treatment. The former president started his battle against skin cancer in August, and told reporters he was cancer-free in December. But since then, he was still taking medication.
This weekend, however, he said that he will no longer take treatment, but doctors will still keep an eye on him. According to last year’s reports, the former president’s melanoma had spread to his brain and liver.
Fortunately, promising immunotherapy medication was readily available for him. The drug helped the 91-year-old’s immune system to spot and wipe out the cancer cells.
The Carter Center, a non-for-profit group founded by Carter and his wife in the early 1980s, reported that if the disease makes a comeback, the former president will resume treatment.
Carter broke the news during a Sunday School class at the Maranatha Baptist Church in North Plains, Georgia.
Back in December, when he said he was deemed “cancer-free,” he added that he would not stop taking pembrolizumab, a breakthrough cancer drug that prompts a strong immune response against cancer, to prevent the disease from reappearing. The cancer treatment is sold as Keytruda by Merck & Co.
Dr. Marc Ernstoff of the Cleveland Clinic’s Taussig Cancer Institute in Ohio who hasn’t provided care to Carter noted that 30 percent of cancer patients on pembrolizumab saw a significant improvement to their cancers but only five percent were deemed cancer-free. Carter was one of those lucky five percent.
The good news came in a difficult moment for the Carter family, as the former president’s 28-year-old grandson suddenly died of a heart attack on Dec. 20. The death of the young Carter was both devastating and unexpected since Jeremy Carter had undergone a “whole battery of tests” two months prior.
His mother, who saw him die right before her eyes, recalls that he often complained about the ache in his legs and fatigue. Additionally, he couldn’t eat as he used to. After tests, doctors decided to give him some vitamins and let him go home. The family couldn’t grasp why they weren’t able to detect the fatal condition in such a young person.
Though the former president was badly shaken by the news he pulled himself together to teach Sunday School hours after the tragedy. The church’s minister noticed that though the class went smoothly as usual, the event was weighing on Carter “very heavily.”
Image Source: Kremlin.ru