Senator Amy Klobuchar shared surprising news on Thursday: She was quietly diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year and has already undergone treatment.
"I wanted to share an update about my health," the Minnesota legislator, a Democrat, began in a Medium post. "In February of this year, doctors at Mayo Clinic found small white spots called calcifications during a routine mammogram. After this was discovered, I had a biopsy at Piper Breast Center in Minneapolis, and then learned that I had Stage 1A breast cancer."
Cancer is classified by stages to help explain how widespread the cancer is. Stage 1 breast cancers are still relatively small and have not spread to the lymph nodes, or they only have a tiny area of cancer that spread to the nearest lymph node, according to the American Cancer Society.
Stage 1 cancers can be divided further into Stage 1A and Stage 1B. Stage 1A typically means that the tumor measures up to 2 centimeters in size, has not spread outside the breast, and no lymph nodes are involved, according to BreastCancer.org.
Klobuchar, 61, said she went through more tests and had a lumpectomy on her right breast "which involved the removal of the cancer."
"In May, I completed a course of radiation treatment, and after additional follow-up visits, it was determined in August that the treatment went well," she continued. Klobuchar said her experience was "scary at times" but noted that her prognosis is good, and doctors say her risk of developing cancer again is no more than the average person faces.
Klobuchar then thanked her family and doctors, before causally mentioning that she chaired the joint Senate Jan. 6 investigation and the For the People hearings while undergoing cancer treatment.
But Klobuchar then pivoted to encourage other people to seek care in the face of the ongoing pandemic. "Many people have been delaying physicals and routine examinations because of the pandemic," she said. "I know that because I delayed mine. In fact, more than one in three adults reported delaying or forgoing health care because of coronavirus-related concerns. Studies have found that thousands of people who missed their mammogram due to the pandemic may be living with undetected breast cancer. Over and over, doctors are seeing patients who are being treated for more serious conditions that could have been caught earlier."
"It's easy to put off health screenings, just like I did," Klobuchar continued. "But I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams, and follow-through. I am so fortunate to have caught the cancer at an early enough stage and to not need chemotherapy or other extensive treatments, which unfortunately is not the case for so many others."
Klobuchar ended her post by noting that her cancer journey "gave me time to reflect on my own life and those I love" as well as a "renewed purpose" in her work. "I have immense gratitude for my family, friends, colleagues, and the people of Minnesota," she said. "I know that each day is a gift."
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter