Dodd upbeat about prognosis, pitches health bill

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) told reporters, “I feel fine” after disclosing Friday that he has been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Dodd, the acting chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced at a news conference in Hartford, Conn., that he would undergo surgery in August but would be ready to return to work in time for what promise to be arduous healthcare negotiations in September.

“I’m going to be fine. We caught this early,” said Dodd. “If you get an early detection of prostate cancer, it’s very, very manageable. So the good news [is] I’m going to be back out and doing all the things you have to do to represent my state."

Doctors detected the cancer in a routine physical in June.

Dodd described prostate cancer as “very common,” noting that one out of six men who live into their later years are diagnosed with it.

Dodd will undergo surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City shortly after the Senate breaks for recess next week.

The lawmaker linked his experience to a call for healthcare reform.

“The benefit of being in Congress and having a good healthcare plan is not available to everyone,” Dodd said. “Today 100 people in this state of Connecticut will lose their healthcare coverage; 14,000 people across the country will.

“For a person who loses healthcare coverage, that physical may not be something you can afford,” he said.

Dodd acknowledged that “things fell apart a bit this week,” in reference to stalled reform talks, but added, “I’m confident we’ll get it back on track again.”

He noted that he is filling in as chairman of the HELP panel in place of his friend Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is battling brain cancer, a much more deadly form of the disease.

Dodd said that he would run for reelection next year.

“I’ll be a little leaner and a little meaner, but I’m running,” he said, flashing his trademark humor. “I’ll be running without a prostate, but that might make me a better candidate.”