‘Serious but curable’: Maryland Rep. Raskin diagnosed with cancer

U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin, of Maryland, announced Wednesday that he has been diagnosed with cancer.

“After several days of tests, I have been diagnosed with Diffuse Large B Cell Lymphoma, which is a serious but curable form of cancer,” Raskin said in a statement Wednesday.

Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma is the most common type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the U.S. and worldwide, according to the Lymphoma Research Foundation. More than 18,000 people are diagnosed with the disease each year.

Raskin will undergo a course of chemotherapy on an outpatient basis at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and he said he plans to work through this period.

His doctors have cautioned him to reduce exposure in order to avoid COVID-19, the flu and other viruses, the statement said.

On his chemotherapy, Raskin said, “I am advised that it also causes hair loss and weight gain (although I am still holding out hope for the kind that causes hair gain and weight loss).”

“With the benefit of early detection and fine doctors, the help of my extraordinary staff, the love of Sarah and our daughters and sons-in-law (actual and to-be) and family and friends, and the support of my beloved constituents and my colleagues in the House, I plan to get through this and, in the meantime, to keep making progress every day in Congress for American democracy,” Raskin said.

Upon the announcement of his diagnosis, lawmakers and public figures have expressed their well wishes to the congressman.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, who has battled cancer, said that he is relieved to hear that Raskin and his doctors are optimistic about his prognosis.

Maryland Gov.-elect Wes Moore offered his sentiments, as well, saying that Raskin “embodies what it means to persevere in the face of overwhelming challenges.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer called Raskin a “dear friend and partner in Congress.”

“He’s a fighter for Marylanders & our Democracy, and I know he will be just as forceful in fighting his diagnosis as well. I wish him a fast recovery & stand by him and his family during this time,” Hoyer said.

Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen echoed Hoyer’s description, wishing Raskin a full and speedy recovery.

“We have seen Jamie fight for our County, our state, & even the soul of our nation. Now as he prepares to fight cancer once again, we send him & his family the love, support & hope that they have always given us,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, whose district Raskin represents.

Even actor Leslie Odom Jr. sent his tribute in a tweet, saying he was grateful for Raskin’s “work and example of integrity.”

The news of Raskin’s most recent diagnosis comes almost two years after his 25-year-old son, Tommy, died by suicide on Dec. 31, 2020.

Raskin was previously diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2010. He told the American Association for Cancer Research that the experience was a “hard-won political epiphany” that made him “passionate about supporting legislation that increases access to health care and promotes investment in biomedical research and health innovation.”

“It’s a misfortune to be diagnosed with illness. It’s an injustice not to have health insurance to do something about it,” Raskin said in speech on the House floor in 2017, regarding medical research funding at the National Institutes of Health.

In 2019, he called for Medicare for All, recalling his experience with cancer in a speech before a Congressional committee meeting, Maryland Matters reported.

Raskin, who was the lead manager in the second impeachment of former president Donald Trump, is set to be sworn in for his fourth term next month. Currently, he sits on the House committee investigating the siege. That panel issued its final report last week and is set to dissolve when the new Republican-led House is sworn in on Jan. 3, The Associated Press reported.

He will be the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Reform Committee in the next Congress.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

This article was written by WTOP’s news partners at Maryland Matters and republished with permission. Sign up for Maryland Matters’ free email subscription today.

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