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Tauscher declares victory over cancer

U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher (Photo by Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher

I had breakfast with U.S. Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher earlier this week and the former East Bay congresswoman shared the compelling and inspiring story of her remarkable triumph over esophageal cancer.

Read the full story here.

I didn’t have space in the piece but I shared with Ellen that morning about how her experience had already helped me in a very personal way.

Last March, the Washington Post wrote a lovely story about her recovery and as I read through the text, I keyed in on Ellen’s description of the early symptoms: Trouble swallowing bulky foods, a sensation of something blocking her esophagus.

My husband had been experiencing the very same symptoms for months. He had recently suffered a painful episode while eating a salad at a restaurant.

I showed him the news story and he made an appointment.

The initial examination revealed a potential problem and his doctor scheduled an endoscopy. Fortunately, the scope found a highly treatable inflammation and not cancer.

But for all we knew at the time, the symptoms could have been associated with a far more serious health problem. And early detection is a good thing when it comes to the successful treatment of cancer.

So, take Ellen’s advice: Even if you think all you need is another roll of Tums, go see your doctor.  Do it for the people who love you.

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Tauscher diagnosed with esophageal cancer

Ellen Tausher

Ellen Tausher

UPDATE: Those who wish to send a card or note may use this address: Department of State, 2201 C Street NW, Washington DC 20520

Former Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, a top arms control official in President Obama administration who represented the East Bay for 14  years, has been diagnosed with early stage cancer of the esophagus, according to ForeignPolicy.com.

ForeignPolicy.com published this morning a memo that Tauscher sent to her staff last week:

“I had not been feeling well for several weeks. Fortunately, instead of sending me home with some medicine, my doctors did test after test to figure out what was wrong,” she wrote in a July 21 memo to all the members of her “T” bureau. “Nothing is certain, but the prognosis is good.”

Tauscher, the former California congresswoman who has been leading the State Department’s nonproliferation and arms-control efforts, has been working non-stop since her appointment last year, including several trips to Russia and Eastern Europe. She’s been at the center of the administration’s efforts to revamp plans for missile-defense deployment abroad and negotiate Obama’s new strategic arms treaty with Russia.

A close friend of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she’s been given credit for restaffing, reorganizing, and revamping the arms-control bureau at State, which Obama administration officials say was neglected during the George W. Bush administration.

Tauscher started an aggressive treatment regiment, which will include surgery. She’ll continue on in her duties, albeit with a scaled-back travel schedule, with the goal being a full recovery by early next year.

The Web site contains a copy of her full memo to her staff.

My prayers go out to Tauscher for a full and speedy recovery.

UPDATE 7/28/10: Tauscher friend David Bowlby sent this comment over this morning:

“Ellen has been a very special, dear friend for many, many years. She truly is a strong, resilient and remarkable person. I know her loving husband, daughter, parents, siblings and her huge, deep circle of friends and colleagues will provide her with love, encouragement and support.”