Former US president Jimmy Carter announced that he was cancer-free on Sunday, just four months after revealing that doctors had found four spots of melanoma on his brain.
“My most recent MRI brain scan did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones,” Carter said in a statement on Sunday. “I will continue to receive regular 3-week immunotherapy treatments of pembrolizumab,” he added, referring to a common cancer drug.
Carter, 91, first shared the news with worshippers at the Baptist church in Georgia where he teaches Bible study on Sunday. The news was confirmed by two grandsons.
In August, the former president convened a press conference to announce that he had cancerous growths on his brain. At the time he said the cancer, a form of melanoma, was likely to “show up other places in my body” and that he was embarking on months of radiation treatments and injections to combat its spread.
On Sunday, Carter, the 39th president, told the Baptist congregation that no such spread had occurred, in news first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“He said he got a scan this week and the cancer was gone,” the paper quoted Carter friend and fellow churchgoer Jill Stuckey as saying in a phone call from the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, where Carter grew up and still lives. “The church, everybody here, just erupted in applause.”
“Victory!” tweeted grandson James Carter IV, with a link to the Journal-Constitution’s coverage.
— James Carter (@JECarter4) December 6, 2015
A second grandson, Jason Carter, told the Associated Press in a text message that his grandfather “told me that the doctors couldn’t find any cancer in his most recent scan.”
When he announced the diagnosis in August, the former president’s outlook did not appear so rosy. His entire nuclear family from childhood – two sisters, a brother and both parents – had died from cancer.
At the time, Carter said that he had been diagnosed with melanoma on his liver, and that he had told his wife of 69 years, Rosalynn, 88, months earlier.
An operation to remove growths on his liver had discovered the additional growths on his brain, Carter said in an appearance at the Carter Center, the foundation hosted at Emory University out of which the former president conducts his international charity and human rights work.
“They did an MRI and found that there were four spots of melanoma on my brain,” Carter said. “They are very small spots, about two millimeters if you can envision what a millimeter is, and I’ll get my first radiation treatment for the melanoma in my brain this afternoon.
“I was surprisingly at ease,” the former president said in reply to a reporter’s question. “I’ve had a wonderful life … I’ve had an exciting, gratifying existence. I felt surprisingly at ease, much more than my wife was.
“But now I feel it’s in the hands of God, and I’ll be prepared for what comes. I’m looking forward to a new adventure.”
Carter has maintained an active public schedule through his cancer treatment. Last month he participated in a house-raising project in Tennessee with the charity Habitat for Humanity, which he accompanies each year to Nepal for similar projects.
Carter has lived 34 years post-presidency, longer than any of his peers. Both presidents Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan lived to be 93 while former president George HW Bush turned 91 in June.