Ellen Tauscher, the under secretary of state for arms control and a leading administration figure implementing President Obama's agenda of controlling the spread of nuclear weapons, informed her staff last week that she has been diagnosed with an early stage of cancer of the esophagus.
"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 regimenton July 19, with surgery expected this fall. 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.
Read her full memo after the jump.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It has been a joy to work with all of you during the past year that I have been with the Department of State. Together, we have made real progress on President Obama's and Secretary Clinton's arms control and nonproliferation agenda.
I am writing to deliver some difficult news. I have been diagnosed with an early stage of cancer of the esophagus. 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. Nothing is certain, but the prognosis is good.
On Monday, my husband, our doctors, and I started an aggressive course of treatment. For now, I feel fine although I realize that this will get worse before it gets better. The treatments, including surgery, will take place during the next several months with the goal of a full recovery by early next year.
There will be some tough times ahead. But I intend to come in to work as much as I can, work from home when I can't, and curb my travel schedule. This period will not be an easy one.
While I welcome and appreciate your thoughts and prayers, what I need most is for you to continue your great work on behalf of our country. I know that I can continue to count on you, on the highly capable and superb leadership of our T bureaus, and on my front office staff to ensure that our important efforts continue unchanged.
Whether we have suffered ourselves or lent support to a family member, relative or friend who has had cancer, most of us have been touched by it. It is an unsparing and equal opportunity illness. As I begin this journey, I appreciate your thoughts and prayers - not just for me - but for my husband, my daughter, and my extended family as well.
HASSAN AMMAR/AFP/Getty Images
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.