"Congresswoman Julia Carson made several announcements this past week regarding her health and her professional intentions. The news began when the six-term Democrat released a statement to The Indianapolis Star on Saturday explaining that she was suffering from terminal lung cancer.
“In the late summer of 2007, Congress granted me a leave of absence because of my leg infection. My wonderful doctor cured the leg, and I went into rehabilitation, planning to be back in Washington shortly. Then the second shoe fell — heavily. My doctor discovered lung cancer. It had gone into remission years before, but it was back with a terminal vengeance,” Carson said.
On Monday, Carson’s Washington, D.C., office issued a series of further statements about the congresswoman’s intention to finish out her term of office, but not seek re-election in 2008. According to her office, Carson “noted that decisions like the one to not seek reelection are always bittersweet, that she will miss her congressional friends and colleagues, but that she will be better able to engage in other personal interests at home.”
Carson’s health has been a major factor in her public profile since taking office in 1996. Over the past 10 years she has suffered from high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma and heart-related conditions. In 2004, a reaction to a flu shot kept Carson hospitalized in the days leading up to the election; an election she handily won by 10 percentage points.
In September of this year, Carson took a leave of absence but expected to return to work on Nov. 1. In late October, the congresswoman announced that her recovery from a leg infection was taking longer than expected, but that she hoped to return to Washington by mid-December. There was no mention of the cancer at that time.
Carson was the first woman and the first African-American to win election in the 7th District when she first took office in 1996. Prior to serving in the U.S. Congress, she held office in the Indiana General Assembly and served as Center Township trustee.