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Stroger talks about his cancer

Friday, July 06, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman Staff writer

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger said concern for his mother led him to keep his diagnosis of prostate cancer secret for more than a year.

"I did not want to discuss it with my mother while she was going through her own problems," Stroger said Thursday in a news conference via speakerphone. "I didn't think my mother needed another serious situation with a family member."

Stroger's mother was dealing with the serious stroke that left Stroger's father and predecessor in office, John Stroger, disabled in March 2006. Todd Stroger said Thursday that his father has not improved.

Todd Stroger also revealed Thursday he was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago, in April 2006.

That's before Democratic Party leaders put Stroger on the ballot in July 2006 to replace his ailing father. Stroger aides previously said he was diagnosed in August.

Stroger said he didn't inform party leaders before he was nominated, and he didn't think they nor the public needed to know of his illness before the election.

"It was nothing immediate that would affect this term at all," Stroger said. "This isn't something like -- conditions that were truly life threatening."

It was Stroger's first interview since his surprise surgery June 18. He talked to reporters from his home via speakerphone.

On the day of the surgery, Stroger's staff said he was undergoing a "routine medical procedure," denying it was anything more serious. Stroger said he would try to prevent misleading statements like that one and the incorrect diagnosis date.

"That's the effect of a new administration and everything not going through me," Stroger said. "I've never told you anything that's not true. -- I'm working to fix that."

Stroger said he's feeling well except for a little soreness near his stitches. He said the cancer had only covered 5 percent of his prostate and his doctors have pronounced him healthy. He plans to return to the office on a limited schedule next week.

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