WASHINGTON -- Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) announced Thursday afternoon that after having delayed the procedure as long as he could he would be undergoing surgery next week for early-stage prostate cancer.
The long-term prognosis seemed relatively okay. The Senator, according to his staff, had caught the presence of cancer early on. But the announcement came as a shock on the Hill, where Wyden's demeanor and energy had not given off any indication of illness.
Considering the high drama of the closing days of the lame-duck session, it also set off the rather cynical, but still defensible, process of re-figuring vote counts for the remaining pieces of legislation, including the omnibus spending bill, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and START. (UPDATE: Wyden's office says that the senator will not miss a vote to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell if it is held on Saturday, as is currently planned.)
In a statement released from his office, Wyden said that he would be "missing votes tomorrow and possibly next week," with the expectation that he would "be back to work full-time when the Senate reconvenes in January."
In a follow-up statement to The Huffington Post, the Senator's spokesman clarified his schedule a bit further.
"He will have to miss votes tomorrow as he has to undergo tests for next week's surgery," said Jennifer Hoelzer. "But he will be around this weekend if there are votes. He will be out all day Monday for the surgery itself, but if everything goes well, we expect him to be discharged from the hospital on Tuesday and then we will play it by ear after that."
That Wyden will be playing it "by ear" so soon after surgery is, undoubtedly, welcomed news -- not just for Democrats, who could use his help on complicated votes, but for those who know the imprint Wyden has on the legislative process and consider him one of the more indispensable thinkers and lawmakers on the Hill.
Here is the full statement from Wyden's office:
After my annual physical in late November, I was diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer. After reviewing all the options with multiple physicians, I decided to take a proactive approach and have surgery, which will be performed December 20 at Johns Hopkins Hospital by Dr. Alan Partin.
Thanks to routine screening, this was diagnosed very early and I expect a full and speedy recovery.
I scheduled the surgery for the Monday before Christmas anticipating that the Senate would have recessed by that time and that there would be no disruption to my work in Oregon or Washington. However, it now appears that I will be missing votes tomorrow and possibly next week while I prepare and undergo this procedure. I expect to be back to work full-time when the Senate reconvenes in January.
If anything is taken away from my experience, I hope it is the importance of getting routine physicals. One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetimes. Early detection is critical to catching this disease when treatment is most effective.