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. DMB

    Ms. Kerry my prayers are with you and your family.

    December 23, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  2. Alexa

    Get well!

    December 23, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  3. robjh1

    God Bless.

    Man when are we going to find a cure for cancer?

    "and we are not saved..."

    December 23, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  4. Jean Hayden

    Dear Mrs. Kerry, Welcome to the "Pink Ribbon Society" survivors! As a Friend said to me "We are Bosom Buddies!" When I was 69, I was diagnosed with early stage one tumor, and opted for a mastectomy and was able to avoid both chemo and radiation. That was in 1999. Then in the early part of Feb. 2008, The other breast was shown to have a stage one tumor, so had it removed. Again, no chemo or radiation and aside from looking like a pear, I refuse to wear a prosthesis, and I am FINE! I totally agree that the Mammogram is essential!! Both of mine were diagnosed via that route, and I was so glad to be living in an area with a top notch Cancer centre.. Take Care!! and live each day one at a time!!!

    December 23, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  5. nomorpolitix

    Is she really 71? Wow!

    December 23, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  6. The Root Word of Progressive is Progress

    As a two time survivor of breast cancer myself, I can certainly empathize with Mrs. Kerry. I agree with the other poster who expressed surprise at only 5 days of radiation. Perhaps a typo, CNN? Anyway, I sure wish her and her family all the best.

    December 23, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  7. Carol

    The best to Mrs. Kerry, she'll be fine. People do put off getting mammograms easier than any other test. I've lost three good friends who did this, two were in their late thirties, and one in her forties.

    December 23, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  8. valwayne

    So Sen Kerry's wife doesn't agree with the Federal Panel's recommendation regarding breast exams and mamography? The panel clearly doesn't think the lives saved are worth the extra cost. I hope she and Sen Kerry realize that with the passage of Obamacare the Federal panels recommendation will be what Doctors have to follow. We are only a few votes, and a few weeks away from mamograms becoming unavaliable for women in their 40s who depend on their insurance to pay for them. Maybe Sen Kerry is voting for Obamacare because doesn't care, it won't impact his wealthy family?

    December 23, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  9. Karen

    Good luck to Mrs. Kerry and thanks to her for encouraging women to continue to get their annual mammograms.

    December 23, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  10. catmomtx

    Iowa Voter: 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.

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Iowa voter, How would you know what kind of insurance coverage Mrs. Kerry has? In case you haven't noticed, the whole point of health care reform is for ALL Americans to have access to affordable health care. I don't believe Senator Kerry is trying to prevent that. Under Republicans , nothing would be done. They would rather see President Obama fail at this, blame him , and do nothing than to try work with the President and Democrats and do something to fix the problems. Congress people on both sides are more interested in keeping their campaign contributions than helping the American people. That you are worried about potential cuts in Medicare shows that you are falling for the fear and scare tactics so popular with Republicans who want to put everything on hold for another decade.

    December 23, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Patty in California

    God bless.....

    December 23, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  12. DEM in HI

    Best wishes and we will say prayers for you and your family for a speedy recovery.

    December 23, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  13. Greg, San Francisco, CA

    Thoughts and prayers for a speedy and complete recovery.

    December 23, 2009 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  14. irish

    I also wish Mrs Kerry and her family well during this trying time. Her advice is something that needs to be heard more and more often so situations like this can be caught in time or avoided completely.

    To those of you who, rather then send best wishes, choose to use this as your own political forum have some common decency and comment elsewhere. This isn't a political story but a human one.

    December 23, 2009 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  15. sensible Cape Coral FL

    STAY STRONG, DEAR FRIEND.

    December 23, 2009 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  16. Lorraine

    Be strong and hopeful. You are in my thoughts and I'm wishing you the best outcome. You have a lot of work to do yet young lady! Behind you 100%!

    December 23, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. Realistic

    Teresa do not give up and I hope all the best for you and your family

    December 23, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. grisbe

    I'm a breast cancer survivor, but also someone who understands enough about statistics and science to agree with the new recommendations. Why focus on screening that hasn't been shown to reduce death rates? For as many lives that would be saved by all that screening, as many women will develop cancer because of the radiation in mammograms. We need better, not more, screening.

    The focus on screening makes people feel like they're doing more than they are. Let's put the focus back on finding a CURE, and the reasons behind the disease rather than feel-good programs that don't do much good.

    People, use your MINDS, not your emotions. Look at the science, not personal anecdotes.

    What's the point. Most Americans believe in Adam and Eve and aren't taught science. Why should I expect them to make rational decisions? What a depressing state of things.

    December 23, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  19. Get checked yearly!

    This is why getting checked every year is very important. I hope she defeats it, and gets better.

    And will people please stop the hateful messages in here? This is not the place for that. Just think if a loved one or you yourself gets it, and somebody wishes you ill even more? Sometimes I wonder if people even bother to check just how hateful and cynical they've already become these days.

    Nevertheless, Merry Christmas to all of us! May we all be loved, and love in return, this season of God's unconditional love – liberal, conservative, independent or just plain indifferent. :-)

    December 23, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. justSteve

    Mrs Kerry:
    I am relieved to read that your prognosis is good.this must be a terrible stress for yourself and family to go through. Furthermore I am also relieved that you chose to DIREGARD those that would have us believe that these types of medical check-ups are not necessary. In cases where cancer is a threat. There is never an instance where screening is not necessary. To suggest different, is Quackery and nothing short-sightedness. Failure to get testred, does nothing but financially enrich the insurance companies by way of not having to pay out money for med billing. Get the test! Better you have the information and not need it, than need it and not have it. Better safe than sorry!

    December 23, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  21. Frank

    My heart goes out the Kerry family but at least she has premium health insurance that will give her hope of getting well. Except, I think she really needs to support her husband's stand on health care. The first thing she should do is visit the death panel to see what her options are and then find out what cancer fighting drugs will they ALLOW her to take. Being 71 years old, I'm sure her options will be limited, since, according to the new health care plan, she is at non-productive stage in her life so she will not be allowed to have the same tretment as a twenty-something who is more prductive. Sorry for being so cynical, but this is a very sad time in our country. May God, Allah, Budda, the Golden Ram or whatever you believe in, help us all.

    December 23, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. hasji

    my heart goes to her , my grandma pass away of breast cancer and it was very painful . hang in there. tereasa , u are in my prayer.
    MERRY CHRISTMAS.

    December 23, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. gl, From Pittsburgh

    I have to have 7 weeks of Radiation and it really burn the mess out of me so I am glad Mrs. Kerry only have to have 5 days of radiation.

    December 23, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Julie

    As a Stage 4 survivor of breast cancer (yep, I beat "death"), diagnosed at 44, I extend my best wishes and strength to win the battle to you Mrs. Kerry. God love you for "sticking it" to the clueless bunch of idiots otherwise known as the "federal panel task force members"!!!

    December 23, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  25. For HRC IN NC

    My Prayers are with you Mrs. Kerry. My twin sister found out she had breast cancer when we were 46 years old thanks to a mammogram. Thirteen years later she is cancer free.

    December 23, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
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