WASHINGTON – Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., announced Friday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer but said he will remain in office and seek re-election next fall.
Dodd, who has emerged as a key figure in the current congressional debate over health care, said at a news conference in Hartford, Conn., he learned in June that he had an early stage of prostate cancer. Dodd, 65, will undergo surgery to remove his prostate this month, while the Senate is in recess.
Sitting beside his wife, Jackie, Dodd said “I’m going to be fine” and said he expects to return to his Senate duties after a couple weeks of recovery. In a statement released by Dodd’s office, his doctor said the “prognosis for his full recovery is excellent.”
“I’ll be a little leaner, a little meaner, but I’m running,” Dodd told reporters at his Hartford office when asked about seeking re-election. “I’ll be running without a prostate, but that might make me a better candidate.”
Dodd connected his own situation with his efforts to pass health care reform. “The benefit of being in Congress and having a good health care plan is not one available to everyone,” he said.
Dodd is the second-ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. He has presided over much of that committee’s work on health care this year, with the chairman, Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., ailing from brain cancer.
Dodd also chairs the Senate Banking Committee, which has been deeply involved in discussions about the nation’s economic outlook and the federal stimulus program.
His fifth term in the Senate ends next year, but he has repeatedly indicated his intention to run for re-election, despite the prospect of a very tough battle.