December 23rd, 2009
04:08 PM ET
11 months ago

Kerry's wife battling cancer

Teresa Heinz-Kerry, the wife of Sen. John Kerry, is battling breast cancer first discovered by an annual mammogram last September.
Teresa Heinz-Kerry, the wife of Sen. John Kerry, is battling breast cancer first discovered by an annual mammogram last September.

(CNN) - Teresa Heinz-Kerry, the wife of Sen. John Kerry, is battling breast cancer first discovered by an annual mammogram earlier this year, she announced in a Pittsburgh-Post Gazette Op-Ed Wednesday.

A spokesman from the Heinz Family Philanthropies confirmed to CNN Heinz-Kerry does have cancer.

Heinz-Kerry writes she was diagnosed and treated for stage one cancer in both breasts, first detected at an early stage during an annual mammogram. According to Heinz-Kerry, she has had two operations and her prognosis for a full recovery is good.

In the Op-Ed, the 71-year-old Heinz-Kerry also said an annual mammogram is vital to a positive prognosis, and made clear she sharply disagreed with a federal panel recommendation last month that women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year.

"The members of the task force were predisposed to choose numbers over people and their recommendations forgot that women do not need more excuses not to get a mammogram at regular intervals, as determined by their doctors," Heinz-Kerry writes. "Our busy lives are full of those. What we need are more reasons to keep those appointments, more support of the value of prevention and refinement of diagnostic procedures, and more choices."

"I am not a doctor or medical expert, but it is neither the doctors nor the experts to whom I wish to speak here. It is, rather, to all the women who have been left confused by this latest report, and to all those who love them," she added.

The Department of Health and Human Services has said it did not endorse the government panel's recommendation and continues to urge for annual mammograms.

(Updated with Heinz-Kerry's Op-Ed comments)

– CNN's Bob Crowley contributed to this report


Filed under: John Kerry
soundoff (86 Responses)
  1. Ancient Texan

    I'm definitely not a John Kerry fan, but I wish John and his wife the very best in this fight against a terrible disease. May you have a speedy and complete recovery.

    December 23, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  2. Iowa Voter

    I wish her well. She only has stage one so that is very good news. I have survived for almost 8 years with stage 2 breast cancer. Most of us are not as lucky as she is to have the type of Insurance that she and her husband carries. Under the Democrats plan I'm not sure if I will last another year. If Medicare care takes a hit then I will be doomed.

    December 23, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  3. Carole Clarke

    At 67 I get a mammo every other year – so far so good. All you can do is stay on top of things, keep checking yourself and don't be shy about questioning the doctor. After all, your life is at stake!

    December 23, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  4. Perusing-through

    Dear Mrs. Kerry,

    We will pray for you. Just remain positive.

    December 23, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  5. rita

    Sometimes it takes something like this to put a human face on a person. Especially a person who became a conservative target and who was so vilified during the presidential race of 2004. Some of the media painted her as hostile towards the media and nothing more than a wealthy benefactor to her husband, as if love and companionship had nothing to do with their marriage. She was considered the bankroll behind the husband candidate. It's funny how we ignore the millions or billions of dollars from Bloomburg types, but our double standards always creep in when a strong women enters the room. Some of us are so predisposed to this. I wish her the best. She has always seemed like a very strong person.

    December 23, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  6. ThinkAgain

    Mrs. Kerry, thank you for sharing your story with the world. I share your disagreement with the federal panel's revised recommendations about mammograms.

    My family wishes you a speedy recovery and all the best this holiday season!

    December 23, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  7. Saad

    All my prayers and wishes are with you Teresa. With the grace of God, you WILL recover completely and be with your wonderful and graceful husband for many many years to come, AMEN.

    December 23, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  8. normajean

    As a breast cancer survivor of over 30 years, I wish Mrs..Kerry well and say "hang in there"With medical science and faith, women are managing to live a lot longer even after major surgery.

    December 23, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Moonbeam

    My best wishes to Mrs. Kerry and her family.

    (Will call for my long overdue appointment now! Arrrgh!)

    December 23, 2009 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  10. katiec

    Teresa and John,
    Good Luck and a speedy recovery.
    Our thoughts are with you.

    December 23, 2009 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  11. Dick_NH

    Teresa~
    I wish you a complete recovery....may God take care of you.

    December 23, 2009 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  12. Elias

    I with terre Kerry all the best and my prayer is up on you and your family as a whole. God will help you and fix the disease you feel attacking you. Best wishes
    Elias

    December 23, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  13. charlie in Maine

    Best of luck to them.

    December 23, 2009 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  14. tele65

    I'll bet next year's salary that she doesn't rely on Obamacare for treatment. Like in Animal Farm. . .some of us are more "equal" than others.

    December 23, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  15. DCHR

    Amen Mrs. Heinz-Kerry! Thank you for speaking up for millions! May God bless and keep you. I wish you a speedy recovery.

    December 23, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  16. Cheryl

    As a breast cancer survivor, I too know the importance of early detection by annual mammograms. My company, has gone to 100% payment, but only every other year, which is an implied recommendation that women only need to have it done every other year. I pray every day that none of my coworkers has the horror of discovering she is in the later stages of breast cancer due to not having an annual mammogram.
    I hope Mrs Kerry has a full recovery and am truly thankful that she has spoken out against the panel.

    December 23, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  17. Saffoula

    Wishing you a speedy recovery! I am glad and not surprised to see that you are treating this an opportunity to educate about this important issue that touches too many lives each year. You go girl!!

    December 23, 2009 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  18. courtney

    Wow some of these comments are just insane. Party affiliation is meaningless. Get well Mrs. Kerry.

    December 23, 2009 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  19. Gary of El Centro, Ca

    Best wishes to her as she takes on the big "C".........she would have made a great First Lady!

    December 23, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  20. j williamson

    All the best to Mrs. Kerry! She showed us what a strong and upstanding woman she is during the 2004 presidential campaign and this will keep her in good stead.

    December 23, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  21. Willy Brown

    Take Care

    December 23, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  22. cph9680

    As despicable as Lurch her husband is, I wish the best for Mrs. Kerry and a complete recovery.

    December 23, 2009 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  23. Rick W-Cambridge

    Our prayers go out for Teresa.

    Hopefully, her comments on mamograms will be taken seriously by the federal task force (aka "death panel")

    Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't remind all (in response to "rita") the vilification of another strong woman who delivered a Downs baby.

    December 23, 2009 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. Susan

    Best of luck Mrs. Kerry!
    The public should be grateful for public figures like Mrs. Kerry in that she is speaking and doing what each woman should, no matter what their insurance situation- taking responsibility for her health, being well informed/educated, and ambitious to treat the disease. Early detection is key and it starts with routine self breast exams that don't cost a penny. And when it comes to insurance (or a person's lack of) people should take it as seriously as the threat of disease or major injury and do something to get it! Not wait until illness strikes only to complain they can't get the proper care that everyone else is getting. The need to acquire one's own health insurance policy should be stressed at early ages so that when children become adults it's the first thing they strive to get instead of purchasing a new TV and playstation.

    December 23, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  25. Michael in Orlando

    I simply cannot believe the hate in here. This poor woman has breast cancer and you're making political, horrible political points over this.

    Can you not just simply wish someone well without the Hate.

    I wish Mrs. Heinz-Kerry the best and a quick recovery, the rest of her family the courage to face this with her and provide her with all the support that is their's to give.

    Michael

    December 23, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
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