Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PRESS RELEASE: Ninth District legislator tackles colon cancer with strength, determination

My prayers are with Steve and his family. If anybody has the strength and determination to beat cancer, he can. This is a guy who used to fly combat helicopter missions in Vietnam.

Ninth District legislator tackles colon cancer with strength, determination

State Rep. Steve Hailey, R-Mesa, has revealed that he is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. The 9th District lawmaker received the diagnosis shortly after the beginning of the 2008 legislative session.

Hailey began a regimen of chemotherapy the week of Jan. 21, and is planning to continue his legislative work as much as possible throughout his treatment.

Hailey made the decision to go public with his cancer diagnosis because he wanted to be honest and open with his constituents, to keep them apprised of his progress, and to help educate people about preventing and detecting the disease.

“This is one of the toughest challenges of my life, but I feel strongly that I have an obligation to be candid about what I’m dealing with and what’s ahead,” said Hailey. “Saying ‘I’ve got cancer’ should not suggest that I’m not up to the emotional and physical demands of battling through this. I’ve been in rough spots before, and I’m confident and optimistic for a positive outcome.”

Hailey credits advances in diagnosis and cure of colon cancer for his encouraging prognosis, but the “gold standard,” he said, is early detection.

“Colorectal cancer is among the most common cancers diagnosed in men and women in the United States, and I have joined the ranks of millions who are facing the same challenge and fighting the disease every day,” Hailey added. “Colon cancer is highly curable if detected in its early stages, and I cannot emphasize strongly enough the importance of regular testing and screenings.”

The American Cancer Society recommends that average-risk men and women over 50 have a fecal occult blood test yearly and a screening colonoscopy every five years. People with a strong family history of cancer should start screening at age 40.

Hailey, his wife and family expressed their appreciation for the many messages of encouragement from well-wishers.

"We have been heartened by the thoughtful show of support from our friends, both at home and among legislative colleagues and staff in Olympia. We are very grateful for everyone's concerns and prayers,” Hailey said. "The prognosis is favorable. My doctors and I are confident that the treatment protocol will be successful, and I look forward to a full, cancer-free recovery.”

To respect the family’s wishes for patient privacy and medical confidentiality, further updates on Rep. Hailey’s condition will be released when appropriate.

“Representative Hailey’s forthright honesty about his health is exactly what I would expect of him, and reflects the integrity and character of the man we know and admire," said 9th District Sen. Mark Schoesler. "I urge everyone to keep Steve and his family in their thoughts, but also to respect their privacy during this difficult period."

“Steve’s a courageous guy, and together with his wife and family, he will rise to meet this challenge with his normal determination,” said Colfax Rep. Joe Schmick, Hailey’s state House seatmate. “He’s a well-liked, dedicated representative, a key part of our legislative team, and folks throughout the district are pulling for him."

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