Jimmy Carter ‘At Ease’ With Brain Cancer Diagnosis

Former president Jimmy Carter announced in August that he has four melanoma spots on his brain.

Medically reviewed in March 2021

Jimmy Carter, former president of the United States, looked calm and upbeat as he addressed a roomful of reporters about his August 2015 cancer diagnosis. Speaking at a press conference from the Atlanta headquarters of the Carter Center, the nonprofit that he founded, the former president stated he has four melanoma tumors on his brain.

Carter, 90, underwent surgery for a mass on his liver in early August, and confirmed at the press conference that the mass removed was a melanoma. He said the operation removed about 10% of his liver, and an MRI showed that the cancer has spread.
 
“At first it felt confined to the liver and the operation removed it. I was relieved,” said Carter. “That same afternoon I had the MRI and [the cancer] showed up in four places in the brain. That night and the next day I just thought I had a few weeks left, but I was surprisingly at ease.”
 
The 39th U.S. president announced that hours after the press conference he would undergo his first session of radiation therapy. Radiation will be repeated three more times in three-week intervals, after which doctors will assess the treatment’s progress. Carter is also taking a medication aimed at bolstering his immune system.
 
Carter’s father and three younger siblings all died of pancreatic cancer, and speculation ran rampant that the as-yet unnamed cancer he announced in mid-August had originated in his pancreas. While Carter stated that his doctors still did not know where the cancer began, he was able to confirm that MRIs and PET scans have thus far shown no cancer on the pancreas. But, Carter added, “it is likely to show up in other places in my body” as more MRIs and PET scans are performed. About 98% of melanoma starts somewhere on the skin, he said.
 
“I never have doubted that I would carry out the recommendations of my doctors,” said Carter. “When they said they want to find out where else it is, I was at ease with that. I’m at ease with whatever comes. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that I didn’t go in with an attitude of despair or anger. I was just at ease. I’m ready for anything and looking forward to a new adventure.”

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