Bob Dole, the former Republican senator and 1996 presidential nominee, announced on Thursday that he has been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer at the age of 97.
In a brief statement, Dole said that he was only recently diagnosed, and that he will start treatment this coming Monday.
“While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” he said.
STATEMENT BY SENATOR BOB DOLE ON HEALTH CHALLENGES pic.twitter.com/ndRxqNWb30
— Senator Bob Dole (@SenatorDole) February 18, 2021
Entertainment Tonight reported that Dole was born in Russell, Kansas, and he spent 36 years representing the state in Congress before resigning in 1996 so that he could run for president against Democratic President Bill Clinton. He had previously tried unsuccessfully to get the GOP presidential nomination in both 1980 and 1988, and he had been Gerald Ford’s vice presidential running mate when he lost to Jimmy Carter in the 1976 election.
Healthcare reform was a major platform of Dole’s presidential campaign, as he pledged to “seek ways to make health care more accessible and affordable for all Americans” and “ensure that individuals who change jobs do not lose their coverage or face pre-existing condition limitations,” according to Politico.
After losing the 1996 race, Dole stayed involved in Republican politics by commenting on things and offering endorsements. He became famous during his time in Congress for having a sharp tongue and being able to make legislative deals easily.
While serving in World War II as an Army platoon leader, Dole was injured in 1945 when charging a German position in northern Italy. He ended up being hit by a shell fragment that crushed two vertebrae and paralyzed his arms and legs. Dole spent three years in a hospital recovering, and he never regained the use of his right hand.
Though Dole left the Army as a captain, Congress approved a promotion to colonel for him in 2019. For his military service, Dole received two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars.
Dole was instrumental in the World War II Memorial on the National Mall, giving a speech during the dedication in 2004 before tens of thousands of his fellow veterans in their 80s and 90s, calling it “our final reunion.”
Dole has been married to his wife Elizabeth for 46 years. Our thoughts and prayers are with him as he begins his cancer battle.