Just days after winning a key leadership post in the House of Representatives, U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) disclosed Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer, Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, which he called “serious but curable.”
This would be Raskin’s second bout with cancer: He underwent treatment for colon cancer in 2010, when he was a member of the state Senate.
“I am about to embark on a course of chemo-immunotherapy on an outpatient basis at Med Star Georgetown University Hospital and Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center. Prognosis for most people in my situation is excellent after four months of treatment,” Raskin, who just turned 60 earlier this month, said in a statement.
“I expect to be able to work through this period but have been cautioned by my doctors to reduce unnecessary exposure to avoid COVID-19, the flu and other viruses. In addition to destroying cancer cells, chemotherapy impairs natural antibodies and undermines the body’s immune system. I am advised that it also causes hair loss and weight gain (although I am still holding out hope for the kind that causes hair gain and weight loss).
“With the benefit of early detection and fine doctors, the help of my extraordinary staff, the love of Sarah and our daughters and sons-in-law (actual and to-be) and family and friends, and the support of my beloved constituents and my colleagues in the House, I plan to get through this and, in the meantime, to keep making progress every day in Congress for American democracy.
“My love and solidarity go out to other families managing cancer or any other health condition in this holiday season—and all the doctors, nurses and medical personnel who provide us comfort and hope.”
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the U.S. and worldwide, according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation. More than 18,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year.
It’s the same cancer that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) was diagnosed with in 2015. He subsequently made a full recovery.
“The good news is that DLBCL is very treatable,” Del. Vaughn Stewart (D-Montgomery), who also survived the disease, wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
Hogan himself was among those sending best wishes Wednesday evening.
“As someone who has beaten cancer in the past, I send my heartfelt prayers and best wishes to Congressman Raskin and his family,” the governor wrote on social media. “We are relieved to hear that he and his doctors are optimistic about his prognosis.”
Just last week, Raskin was elected ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform for the 118th Congress. He also just completed work on the special House committee looking into the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, which issued a damning report laying the destruction at the feet of former President Trump.
For the past two years, Raskin has been operating under intense pressure — first with the death by suicide of his son Tommy on Dec. 31, 2020, then with the sacking of the Capitol, then with his role as the lead manager in Trump’s second impeachment, then with his work on the Jan. 6 panel.
Statements of love and good wishes began pouring in for Raskin immediately following his announcement Wednesday afternoon, from colleagues, fellow political leaders, supporters and constituents.
On Twitter, U.S. Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-N.Y.) called Raskin “a national treasure — an oasis of legal integrity and intellect at a time when both are desperately needed in democracy’s defense.”
Ron Klain, White House chief of staff — and a Raskin constituent — tweeted that he’s “wishing a fast recovery for an outstanding public servant and a long-time friend.”
Gov.-elect Wes Moore (D) said in a statement: “Rep. Raskin embodies what it means to persevere in the face of overwhelming challenges. My friend, we are praying for you and we know you will overcome this challenge as you have the rest.”
Abigail Constantino of Maryland Matters news partner WTOP News contributed to this report.