It’s a struggle for me because I had to inform my staff earlier today. I can’t escape… Even though people are telling me it’s not the way to look at it, I can’t help but feel that I’m letting everybody down with this. But the upshot is that I have been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, diagnosis confirmed by two medical institutions back on January 20th. I first realized something was wrong on my birthday weekend, January 12th.
I wish I didn’t have to tell you this, and I thought about not telling anybody. I thought about trying to do this without anybody knowing, ’cause I don’t like making things about me. But there are going to be days that I’m not gonna be able to be here because I’m undergoing treatment or I’m reacting to treatment, and I know that that would inspire all kinds of curiosity with people wondering what’s going on.
And the worst thing that can happen is when there is something going on and you try to hide it and cover it up. It’s eventually gonna leak, and then people are gonna say, “Why didn’t you just say it? Why’d you try to fool everybody? ” It’s not that I want to fool anybody. It’s just that I don’t want to burden anybody with it, and I haven’t wanted to. But it is what it is. You know me; I’m the mayor of Realville.
So this has happened, and my intention is to come here every day I can and to do this program as normally and as competently and as expertly as I do each and every day, because that is the source of my greatest satisfaction professionally, personally. I’ve had so much support from family and friends during this that it’s just been tremendous. I told the staff today that I have a deeply personal relationship with God that I do not proselytize about.
But I do, and I have been working that relationship (chuckles) tremendously, which I do regularly anyway, but I’ve been focused on it intensely for the past couple of weeks. I know there are many of you in this audience who have experienced this, who are going through it yourselves at the same time. I am, at the moment, experiencing zero symptoms other than… Look, I don’t want to get too detailed in this.
What led to shortness of breath that I thought might have been asthma or — you know, I’m 69 — it could have been my heart. My heart’s in great shape, ticking away fine, squeezing and pumping great. It was not that. It was a pulmonary problem involving malignancy. So I’m gonna be gone the next couple days as we figure out the treatment course of action and have further testing done. But, as I said, I’m gonna be here as often as I can.
And, as is the case with everybody who finds themselves in this circumstance, you just want to push ahead and try to keep everything as normal as you can, which is something that I’m going to try to do. But I felt that I had to tell you because that’s the kind of relationship I feel like I have with those of you in this audience. I say it every Christmas, which is when I feel more thankful than at Thanksgiving.
And I feel thankful at Thanksgiving, but Christmas it really gets to me. But over the years, a lot of people have been very nice telling me how much this program has meant to them. But whatever that is, it pales in comparison to what you all have meant to me. And I can’t describe this. But I know you’re there every day. I can see you. It’s strange how, but I know you’re there.
I know you’re there in great numbers, and I know that you understand everything I say. The rest of the world may not when they hear it expressed a different way, but I know that you do. You’ve been one of the greatest sources of confidence that I’ve had in my life. So, I hope I will be talking about this as little as necessary in the coming days.
But we’ve got a great bunch of doctors, a great team assembled. We’re at full-speed ahead on this, and it’s just now a matter of implementing what we are gonna be told later this week. So, I’ll be back here. I hope I’ll be back Thursday. If not, it will be as soon as I can — and know that every day I’m not here, I’ll be thinking about you and missing you. Thank you very much.