Defense Chief Admits His Mistake

'I should have told the president about my cancer,' says Lloyd Austin
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2024 11:39 AM CST
Defense Chief Offers Public Mea Culpa
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is seen at the Pentagon in Washington on Monday.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Defense chief Lloyd Austin swears he's learned his lesson. In his first press conference since a hospital stay he kept secret, Austin issued a mea culpa for not being more forthcoming:

  • '"I want to be crystal clear: We did not handle this right. I did not handle this right. I should have told the president about my cancer diagnosis," Austin said, per the Hill. "I should have also told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people." He added he "never directed anyone to keep my January hospitalization from the White House," per USA Today.
  • As for his recovery from prostate cancer surgery, ''I won't be ready for the Olympics, but I'll improve," he said. Austin added that he's using a golf cart instead of walking any distance of note but is improving with physical therapy. The 70-year-old called the diagnosis itself a "gut punch."

  • So why was Austin reticent to talk about his prostate diagnosis? A Vox piece notes that it's not uncommon for men with this particular type of cancer, and it explores the stigma and the cancer itself with two experts in the field. "Prostate cancer is interesting because it is one where you are balancing multiple risks," says Dr. Michael Leapman of the Yale School of Medicine. "You're balancing the risks of the cancer itself, the risks from the treatment, and every person's preference."
(More Lloyd Austin stories.)

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