Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter announces that he will start radiation treatment for cancer on his brain in Atlanta, Georgia.
ATLANTA, GEORGIA, UNITED STATES (AUGUST 20, 2015) (NBC) – Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said on Thursday (August 20) he will start radiation treatment for cancer on his brain later in the day.
Carter, 90, said he will cut back dramatically on his schedule to receive treatment every three weeks after doctors detected four spots of melanoma on his brain following recent liver cancer surgery.
Carter served as president from 1977 to 1981. His one term in the White House was defined by national economic struggles and the embarrassing Iran hostage crisis. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
Carter entered a news conference at the nonprofit Carter Center bearing his name in Atlanta walking normally, smiling, and wearing blue jeans.
The news that cancer had spread to his brain came a week after he revealed his liver surgery found the disease had spread to other parts of his body.
He announced at that time that he was rearranging his schedule to receive treatment at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta, where he previously underwent elective surgery to remove a small mass in his liver. His prognosis was then considered excellent, the Carter Center said in a statement earlier this month.
Yet with his father and his three siblings having died of pancreatic cancer, the disease has long been a concern for Carter. His mother also had pancreatic cancer, in addition to breast and bone cancer.
“For a number of years, [my wife] Rosa and I have planned on dramatically reducing our work at the Carter Center but haven’t done it yet. We thought about this when I was 80, we thought about it again when I was 85, we thought about it again when I was 90, and so this is a propitious time I think for us to finally to carry out our long delayed plans,” he said.
When he first found out he had cancer, Carter said he thought he only had “a few weeks left” but was “surprisingly at ease”.
“I’ve had a wonderful life, thousands of friends, and I’ve had an exciting and adventurous and gratifying existence. So I was surprisingly at ease, much more so than my wife was, but now I feel, you know, that it’s in the hands of God whom I worship and I’ll be prepared for anything that comes.”
The centrist former governor of Georgia is credited with helping to stabilize the Middle East as a result of the 1978 Camp David accords between Israel and Egypt.
Asked by a reporter at Thursday’s news conference what he’d most like to see happen before the end of his life, Carter answered, “peace for Israel and its neighbors.”
“The whole process is practically dormant. The government of Israel has no desire for a two state solution, which is the policy of all the other nations in the world. And the United States has practically no influence compared to past years in either Israel or Palestine. So I feel very discouraged about it, but that would be my number one foreign policy hope,” he said.
After losing re-election to Republican Ronald Reagan, Carter went on to champion wide-ranging international humanitarian efforts in places such as China and Egypt.
He published his latest book last month, titled “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety.”
In a wide-ranging interview last month about his life with Reuters Editor-at-Large Sir Harold Evans, Carter reflected on his childhood in a home without running water or electricity and his concerns about ongoing racial prejudice in the United States.
Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, have three sons and a daughter. They live in rural Plains, Georgia, about 150 miles (240 km) south of Atlanta, where he has remained a Baptist church deacon and a Sunday school teacher, according to the Carter Center.