May 5, 2016

By Congressman Mark DeSaulnier,

Last summer, I was diagnosed with the most common leukemia in the world, a cancer named Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). I recently completed aggressive chemotherapy. I feel fortunate that I had a positive response to this treatment, and that neither CLL nor the treatment impacted my professional work.

CLL is a chronic disorder many Americans face, which doctors liken to diabetes and hypertension. While CLL cannot currently be completely cured, incredible breakthroughs, medical advancements and cutting edge therapies are allowing it to be managed over a lifetime.  As a result of these developments, there are approximately 1.2 million Americans, like myself, living long, full lives with blood cancer.

Before sharing my diagnosis, I had much to consider personally and professionally. My doctors assured me that people with CLL, myself included, could continue to work and function at a high level. The medical professionals were right; I have been able to go home every weekend, except one, logging over 170,000 miles flown, held 14 town halls, had meetings with thousands of constituents, and maintained a 99.1% voting average in my first session of Congress.

By publicly sharing my story, I hope to add my voice to the growing number of people fighting cancer and the other chronic conditions so many families confront. I look forward to continuing to serve the people of our district, and do so stronger and with a better understanding having faced this experience.


  1. This article does nothing to put in proper perspective, what CLL is and how profoundly it can affect a person’s life. It is nothing more than a political statement to help this man be re-elected. Come on, diagnosed last summer and received “aggressive treatment”? My knowledge base regarding this disease comes from being a CLL patient.

    Bruce Wright | May 7th, 2016
  2. Wow, Bruce. What a hurtful comment. And just for the record, I’m a liberal Democrat with CLL.

    Robert | May 7th, 2016
  3. US Congressman DeSaulnier has chosen to share his diagnosis and treatment
    >> for CLL with the public in stark contrast to our public figures who kept
    >> quiet during their life
    >> Good for him. And us.
    > I found the article (
    > ) infuriating, in that it made CLL sound like the proverbial “walk in the
    > park”. There was no mention of more difficult diagnoses and/or treatments,
    > or of mortalities in a significant number of people afflicted with CLL who
    > DO often die far too young, or of greater risks for Richter transformations
    > or for other cancers.
    > The Congressman’s story tends only to increase the all-too-common idea
    > (common even with many doctors) that CLL is “the good cancer”. To be
    > honest, I am glad that the Congressman has done quite well (so far) with
    > his CLL, but, to be honest, I think it would have been better for the CLL
    > community if the Congressman had kept his diagnosis and treatment secret,
    > since his public story related only good news. YMMV.
    > [If the Congressman had explained a bit more of the dangers to CLL patients
    > and of the need for continued research into treatments for difficult CLL
    > diagnoses, I would have had a different reaction to his public statement.]
    > Carry on then…
    > Fred (Frederick Wasti)

    Fred Wasti | May 9th, 2016