Former U.S. Sen. Bob Dole announced in a statement Thursday that he’s been diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.
“My first treatment will begin on Monday,” the Kansas Republican and former presidential candidate said in the statement. “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also known that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own.”
Dole, 97, represented Kansas for eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives and for more than 27 years in the U.S. Senate. During his time in the Senate, he served as majority or minority leader for nearly 11 years. In 1996, he unsuccessfully ran for president on the Republican ticket against Democrat Bill Clinton. A short while later, in January 1997, President Clinton presented Dole with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his public service.
He was given the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor awarded by Congress, in 2018. During the award ceremony, then-President Donald Trump called him a “true American hero.”
Dole overcame disabling war wounds sustained near the end of World War II to forge his lengthy political career. Charging a German position in northern Italy in 1945, Dole was hit by a shell fragment that crushed two vertebrae and paralyzed his arms and legs. The young Army platoon leader spent three years recovering in a hospital but never regained use of his right hand.
Dole left the Army as a captain, but Congress in 2019 approved a promotion for him to colonel. He also received two Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars for his military service.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., shared well-wishes and prayers for Dole in a statement posted on social media.
“I have not known a better public servant, a man with a bigger heart, someone more focused on the good of the nation, more opposed to political drama, or a more incredible negotiator than Senator Bob Dole,” he wrote.
“Just as you taught me that when there is ‘any problem too big, just go listen to the people of Kansas,’ please know that the state we both love is behind you, and Laina and I and my entire family of course are behind you.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.