Cancer Diagnosis Not Slowing Down Arkansas Lawmaker

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. -- During the current legislative session, one lawmaker is fighting for much more than his political agenda. State Sen. Greg Standridge (R-Russellville) is in a battle for his life against stage four cancer.

"It was a shock because we definitely weren't expecting to find out at 48 that you have colon cancer," he said.

Standridge got the initial diagnosis early last year. 

"They got me down for a CAT scan to see if there were any hotspots or any other areas where the cancer had spread," Standridge said. "The main area we saw was the liver."

Last July, he started chemotherapy. Doctors hope to shrink the tumor in his liver to a size where it can be removed. 

"It's very serious," said Dr. Thomas Sneed, Standridge's oncologist. "Any cancer that spreads out of the original organ, it's got to be considered serious and a life-threatening situation." 

On Wednesdays, Standridge gets treatment at Saint Mary's Hospital Cancer Center in Russellville. But even as the latest batch of powerful drugs is pumped into his body, Standridge continues his work as a senator. 

 

He reviews legislation, negotiates bills and even casts votes over the phone.   

"I feel like it's very important to follow through with what you were elected to do," Standridge said.   

The senator credits his colleagues for allowing him to continue serving while getting treatment. 

"It's been unbelievable," he said of the support. 

The emotion poured out when he talked about their kindness and the caring thoughts he's received from constituents. 

"I get cards and calls from all over the state," he said.

Sneed says the prognosis depends on how Standridge responds to treatment, but, so far, he's doing well 

"Senator Standridge is not a wimp," Dr. Sneed said. "He has handled his treatment with a considerable amount of courage and grace." 

On the day we visited, his wife Karen was by his side for the treatment. He has also made new some friends among the other patients. 

He says he hasn't asked doctors to put a percentage on his changes of survival, because in his mind he's already got the answer. 

"We know that we can beat it," he said. "It's just gonna take time."

Standridge could eventually need up to three surgeries to remove tumors on his liver and colon. Next week, he heads to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for tests that will help determine the course of treatment. 


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