FRANKFORT — Kentucky Secretary of State Elaine Walker announced Wednesday that she was diagnosed recently with breast cancer.
Walker, wearing a pink suit to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, told reporters in her Capitol office that she would complete the remaining 21/2 months of her term as she undergoes treatment.
Walker, 60, said she chose to make the information public to encourage more women to do routine self-exams and to get mammograms.
"The good news is that because of early detection ... it appears the prognosis is very good," Walker said. "I am now one of 3,000 Kentuckians who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year."
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It was a routine mammogram and follow-up tests that caught the cancer, she said. She was notified Oct. 4 of her test results. It is not clear what stage her cancer is in, but the preliminary results seem to indicate the cancer was detected early, she said.
Walker told her senior staff about her diagnosis Wednesday.
Walker said she and her doctors are still in early discussions about treatment options, but it's certain that surgery will be part of her treatment.
Walker, the former mayor of Bowling Green, was appointed by Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear in January to fill the unexpired term of Republican Trey Gayson. Walker was defeated in the May Democratic primary by Lexington lawyer Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Walker said she would be in constant contact with her staff during the coming weeks when she undergoes treatment. As secretary of state, Walker will oversee the Nov. 8 general election.
"The work of this office will continue," she said.
Dorian Walker, her husband of 34 years, told reporters Wednesday that his wife has an "indomitable spirit." She left the hospital only 12 hours after giving birth to her first child because there were "things to be done."
Beshear and his wife, Jane, said in a joint statement: "It's a testament to Elaine Walker's character that shortly after her diagnosis of breast cancer, she has publicly announced her health status and is urging more Kentucky women to be screened for this disease. We understand that the cancer was caught early, and we pray for her full and speedy recovery."