Bob Dole Battles Stage IV Lung Cancer
- Bob Dole, 98, said that the chemotherapy he was receiving to help him battle stage IV lunch cancer ‘nearly killed [him]’ in an interview timed to his 98th birthday.
- The former GOP presidential nominee – who supported Trump and is close friends with Biden – is now receiving immunotherapy, and is hoping to get well enough to return to his home state of Kansas.
- Stage IV lung cancer, like Dole’s, is typically treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy.
He had initially been receiving chemotherapy for his cancer, but said the aggressive regimen “was about to kill me.”
Dole also revealed he was in contact with President Biden, who spent 90 minutes with him a month after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Happy #OpeningDay to all the baseball lovers out there. No matter which team you’re rooting for, any day that includes peanuts, hot dogs, cold beer, and America’s favorite pastime is a home run in our books.⚾🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/te0R3IyMHQ
— Elizabeth Dole Foundation (@DoleFoundation) April 1, 2021
“A great, kind, upstanding, decent person,” Dole said of Biden.
He then noted that he was not as fond of the Democratic leader’s policies.
“I asked him, I said, ‘Why did you close that pipeline in (South) Dakota?’” said Dole, referring to the Keystone Pipeline.
Dole, who was one of the first politicians to endorse former president Donald Trump, also shared his concern abut the current state of politics.
“I don’t like to second-guess, but I do believe we’ve lost something,” said Dole.
“I can’t get my hand on it, but we’re just not quite where we should be, as the greatest democracy in the world. And I don’t know how you correct it, but I keep hoping that there will be a change in my lifetime.”
Dole said that he had been keeping “pretty busy” and that he would be celebrating his birthday with a party hosted by wife Elizabeth and approximately 12 guests at their Watergate apartment.
His birthday wish will be “pretty good heath” Dole said, and his ultimate goal is to get well enough to make at least one final trip to to his home state of Kansas.
He had previously said in a interview with CBS Sunday Morning that he hoped to live to 100. When wife Elizabeth noted that she was already busy planning that party, her husband deadpanned: “I’m going to try to attend if I can.”
Advanced Lung Cancer Treatments
Stage four lung cancer, like Dole’s, is typically treated with chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy. In a previous interview, Dr. Brendon Stiles, chief of thoracic surgery & surgical oncology at Montefiore and Albert Einstein College of Medicine, explains various treatment options for late-stage lung cancer.
“One of the main concerns facing physicians is the potential side effects of any cancer treatment,” says Dr. Stiles. “Where we could potentially run into trouble is that some of these (immunotherapy) drugs can cause pneumonitis, inflammation in the lungs. Chemotherapy can cause immunosuppression so that the combination of those may be tough for some patients to take,” he says.
“If a patient is at the start of their stage four course and treatment needs to get started, I personally would offer our standard treatment. If they’ve already had twelve months of immunotherapy and they’re doing well, and things are going okay, maybe it makes sense to skip the dose to keep them away from a medical establishment right now and keep them safe,” he says, of treating advanced lung cancer during COVID-19.
Coping with a Diagnosis
Getting a late-stage cancer diagnosis can be challenging, particularly during a pandemic. But there are resources out there to help cope with the complicated emotions that may result from a diagnosis.
Some people experience grief, depression, and anxiety after a cancer diagnosis. Therapy, support groups, and other formal resources can be a helpful way to process this new reality. Camila Legaspi was in high school when she lost her mom to breast cancer, and she credits therapy with saving her, and seeing her through that rough period. In a previous interview, Legaspi says, “Embrace the situation as best as you can, because the reality is … that it sucks.”
“I was dealing with some really intense anxiety and depression at that point,” she says. “It just changed my life because I was so drained by all the negativity that was going on. Going to a therapist helped me realize that there was still so much out there for me … that I still had my family, that I still had my siblings.”