Stroger knew of cancer in spring '06 Stroger kept it quiet before nomination
Friday, July 06, 2007
by Rob Olmstead
Even as the controversy over disclosure of his father's health condition swirled about him in the spring of 2006, Todd Stroger knew he had prostate cancer, but he chose not to share that with Democratic officials or voters, he said Thursday.
"This was nothing that was life-threatening," said Stroger -- now the Cook County Board President -- in a telephone news conference.
Because of the early stage in which the cancer was detected, and because he didn't want to worry his mother, he chose not to disclose it to the general public or to Democratic Party officials who were choosing between him, Congressman Danny Davis and others to replace his stroke-injured father, John Stroger, on the November ballot for Cook County president.
Stroger's account of his illness was the second time his version differed greatly from what his staff has said previously.
When Stroger announced in June he was taking some time off to go to the hospital for an undisclosed reason, his staff said it was for a "routine medical procedure."
Todd Stroger (Bill Zars/Daily Herald file photo)
After it was leaked that the procedure was, in fact, removal of his prostate for cancer, staff members said Stroger had been diagnosed with the illness in August -- after being selected in July for the ballot but before the November election.
Thursday, Stroger corrected that, saying he had been diagnosed in April or May -- key months in which Stroger supporters like William Beavers promised voters John Stroger would be back but refused to release any information on his medical condition to confirm that.
The information dearth continued until the deadline for third-party candidates to file for the November election had passed. Then John Stroger, via letter, stepped down, clearing the way for his son to be nominated to his spot.
Thursday, Todd Stroger said the conflicting statements about his condition were a result of his staff not checking with him before issuing statements, something he'll rectify, he said.
"That is the effect of a new administration," he said.
His administration took office last December.
Stroger denied he kept his condition quiet to secure his spot in office but said it was a matter of privacy and also out of consideration to his mother, who was still reeling from her husband's stroke.
"I did not really want to discuss it with my mother while she was going through her own problems," he said.
Stroger said he only recently told his mother about the cancer after his surgery in June.
Tony Peraica, Stroger's Republican opponent in November, said Stroger should have disclosed the information.
"While sympathetic for his predicament ... I think that as a matter of public policy, the public is entitled to know more than less," Peraica said.
Cady Gibbons, executive director of the Democratic Party, disagreed.
"I think it's an individual's choice," she said. "My first thing would be to wish him well."
Stroger said he is feeling well these days but still has a little soreness from his surgery. He will begin a curtailed work schedule next week, he said.