JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska Republican gubernatorial contender Scott Hawkins said Thursday that he has pancreatic cancer but will continue his campaign.
A release from Hawkins’ campaign said the Anchorage businessman was diagnosed in February and has undergone “aggressive treatments” while maintaining his schedule. He plans to continue treatment in Seattle and Anchorage.
“Through a dedicated treatment regimen and prayer, I plan to join the tens of thousands of Alaskans who now call themselves cancer survivors,” he said in the release.
Hawkins is one of the higher-profile Republicans to have announced plans to seek the GOP nomination for governor, along with former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy and state Rep. Mike Chenault.
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Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, is seeking re-election.
Hawkins, 59, told The Associated Press the cancer was caught early, and his doctors are telling him it’s “very beatable.”
He said he asked them, if they were in his position, whether they would end their campaigns, and they said no.
Hawkins anticipates a treatment program that includes chemotherapy and surgery.
The release from the campaign included statements from two of Hawkins’ doctors, including Dr. Steven Liu. The release quotes Liu as saying Hawkins’ tumor is small and that he is an “excellent candidate for a successful surgery.”
Liu also said Hawkins is handling drug treatments well, “which gives us more treatment options and adds further optimism to his prognosis.”
According to the National Cancer Institute, pancreatic cancer is relatively rare, but it is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Survival rates are higher when detected before the cancer has spread.
Dr. Vincent Picozzi, who the campaign said is leading Hawkins’ treatment team, said in the release that Hawkins’ cancer has not spread to other organs.
Hawkins, in the release, said he decided to disclose his condition when he learned his drug treatment program will last into the summer. The primary is in August.
“Alaska voters deserve to know the whole picture,” he said. “Also, I will need the understanding of Alaskans should I lose hair or should my schedule need to be adjusted this summer due to medical treatments.”
Dunleavy temporarily suspended his campaign last year for medical issues involving his heart. In reviving his campaign in December, Dunleavy said his treatments were successful.
Walker announced a prostate cancer diagnosis in late 2016 and had what he described as successful surgery.