Former President Jimmy Carter, 90, said Thursday that doctors had found cancerous spots on his brain, and he will receive his first radiation treatment later in the afternoon.
“I feel good,” he said in an optimistic press conference where the former president answered many questions from reporters. “I haven’t felt any weakness yet and the pain has been slight.”
Carter said roughly 10% of his liver was removed on Aug. 3 to take out a small tumor, but a scan later in the day found the cancer in four small spots on his brain.
“That night and the next day until I came back up to Emory, I just thought I had a few weeks left, but I was surprisingly at ease. I’ve had a wonderful life, I have thousands of friends and I‘ve had an exciting and adventurous and gratifying existence,” he said.
Doctors believe the cancer first appeared elsewhere in his body before spreading, and Carter said he expects further cancerous cells will be found in future scans.
“I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” Carter said, citing his faith.
Carter said he and his wife will scale back his work with the Carter Center. “I’m going to cut back fairly dramatically on my obligations,” he said. “Carter Center is well prepared to continue on without any handicap.”
Carter said the hardest part about the diagnosis and treatment was slowing down his work.
“I really wanted to go to Nepal to build houses,” he said of a planned Habitat for Humanity trip scheduled for later this year. “That would have been our 33rd year of going without fail, but if it interrupts the treatment regiment, I think I need to get the treatment.”
A number of American leaders phoned the former president to wish him well, including former Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as Secretary of State John Kerry, also called Carter.
“First time they called me in awhile,” Carter joked, drawing laughs from the crowd. “I just had a complete effusion of gratitude.”
Asked about the highlight of his long and illustrious career and life, Carter said it was his wife, Rosalynn Carter.
“Best thing I did was marrying Rosa, that was the pinnacle of my life. We’ve had 69 years together, still together, that’s the best thing that’s happened to me,” he said. “Getting involved in politics … that’s obviously a glorious event.”