Former Louisiana governor gravely ill with cancer

Published 12:02 am Monday, December 11, 2017

BATON ROUGE  (AP) — Former Gov. Kathleen Blanco is undergoing treatment for cancer in her liver, she announced Sunday, describing it as a “fight for my own life, one that will be difficult to win.”

“I have begun a treatment program that hopefully, over time, will quell these cancer demons. No treatments have yet been identified to actually cure this type of melanoma, so a variety of treatments will likely be necessary over time,” the Democratic one-term governor said in a letter released to media outlets.

She asked for prayers.

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Blanco was Louisiana’s first and only female governor, serving from 2004 to 2008, choosing not to run for re-election after criticism of her performance during and after hurricanes Katrina and Rita. She served 24 years in various elected offices. Before she was governor, Blanco had been a state lawmaker, a member of the state utility regulatory commission and lieutenant governor.

She was diagnosed and treated for a rare eye cancer in 2011. In her letter, Blanco said that cancer has spread and “invaded my liver.”

“I knew from the start of my cancer journey this could happen, but with each passing year, I hoped this cup would pass me by. It did not,” she wrote.

Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat who has become close to Blanco since she helped him in the governor’s race, called for prayers for her recovery.

“She is a strong woman of incredible faith, a deep and abiding love of Louisiana and all its people,” Edwards said in a statement Sunday. “Now, we ask the people of our state to join their prayers to ours that she, aided by the Great Physician as well as her medical team, wins a great victory over her cancer and is restored to full health.”