Is Lee Zeldin OK? Republican Congressman diagnosed with early-stage leukemia

Rep Lee Zeldin's treatment began immediately and he ran for the Republican nomination for governor this year


                            Is Lee Zeldin OK? Republican Congressman diagnosed with early-stage leukemia
Lee Zeldin confirmed that his illness, an early stage chronic myeloid leukemia, is not going to affect his campaign (leezeldin/Instagram)

Lee Zeldin, a third-term Republican congressman from Shirley, said on September 18, Saturday, that he was diagnosed with leukemia in its early stage in November 2020. His treatment began immediately, and he then ran for the Republican nomination for governor this year. He confirmed that his illness, an early-stage chronic myeloid leukemia, is not going to affect his campaign.

"Last November, I was diagnosed with early-stage CML and immediately started treatment which I responded well to without side effects," Zeldin told Newsday. "Over the last 9 months, I have achieved complete remission, am expected to live a normal life, and my doctor says I currently have no evidence of this disease in my system," added.

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Dr Jeffrey Vacirca, who is in charge of his trearment, confirmed that Zeldin is "incredibly healthy". Dr Jeffrey Vacirca is part of New York Cancer and Blood Specialists, which has various practices in New York City and on Long Island. 

At an Ontario County Republican Party dinner last week, Zeldin spoke about his diagnosis for the first time in public, to uplift Ontario County chairwoman Trisha Turner, who is fighting health issues and undergoing treatment. Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who was present at the event, said, "I was surprised. He brought it up toward the end of his speech. You wouldn’t know he had cancer if he didn’t say it."

The announcement also surprised Assembly Republican leader Will Barclay (R-Pulaski), who was also present at the event. "I didn’t know he was sick," Barclay said. "When he said he was diagnosed with cancer, it was a surprise. But it seems like he’s doing well."

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, to him Zeldin first spoke to about his diagnosis, tweeted about the shocking revelation. Suffolk County GOP Chairman Jesse Garcia said that he knew about Zeldin’s illness. "He was diagnosed. He was treated. He is fully healthy, and that all occurred before he announced he was running for governor," Garcia said.



 

 

Zeldin’s physician, Vacirca, confirmed that he has responded to the treatment very well. "In November 2020, following a diagnosis of early chronic myeloid leukemia, Congressman Zeldin began targeted therapy, to which he immediately responded extraordinarily well and has achieved complete remission," Vacirca said. "Successfully treated, early chronic myeloid leukemia is now a chronic disease, which carries a normal life expectancy," Vacirca added.

Zeldin said that the diagnosis could not slow him down or withhold him from going for his  Army Reserve duty. "Right now, I’m once again crisscrossing New York State in our campaign for Governor, hitting Monroe, Wayne, and Ontario Counties yesterday, and Jefferson, Lewis, and Hamilton Counties today," Zeldin said.

Peter King, the former Republican congressman from Seaford, said that a cancer diagnosis in the present day should not affect a campaign, and one must not hide such information and instead tell the public about the illness' specifics. "The fact is that Lee said he was diagnosed last November and that’s he’s been pretty active across the state. A lot has changed over the years," said King, who retired in 2020.