Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) told two Florida newspapers Saturday that she has secretly battled breast cancer for the past year, undergoing seven major surgeries as she worked full time in Congress and as a chief fundraiser for House Democrats.
Wasserman Schultz, 42, said she now has a clean bill of health and will introduce a bill Monday calling for a national education campaign targeting women under 40.
In an interview with the Miami Herald and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Florida Democrat said she discovered a lump in her breast through a self-exam soon after her first mammogram at age 40.
She had both her breasts removed because she carries a gene that makes her more susceptible to recurrence. She also had a surgery to remove her ovaries the day after Election Day because of a higher risk of ovarian cancer.
But she only told a small group of family and friends, opting to schedule treatment during Congressional recesses. She also didn’t tell her three young children because she didn’t want them to worry.
“I didn’t want it to define me,— she told the Miami Herald. “I didn’t want when you wrote a story about me, I would become Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who is battling breast cancer.’ I didn’t want that to be my name because I knew I was going to be fine.—